October 22, 2015 / 6:09 PM / 4 years ago

New Jersey to vote on override of Christie gun control bill veto

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New Jersey Senate will vote on Thursday whether to override Governor Chris Christie’s veto of a bill that requires courts and law enforcement to exchange information before people trying to purchase a firearm can have their medical records expunged.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey governor Chris Christie speaks during the Heritage Action for America presidential candidate forum in Greenville, South Carolina on September 18, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Keane

Christie, who is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, rejected the bill in August after it passed unanimously in both the state Senate and Assembly.

The vote comes after several recent mass shootings, including one at a community college in Oregon that left 10 dead this month. The massacres fueled a national debate over keeping guns away from people with a history of mental illness.

“I cannot endorse a continued path of patchwork proposals and fragmented statutes that add further confusion to an already cumbersome area of law,” Christie wrote in his conditional veto.

The bill goes further than previous state legislation by requiring notification of local law enforcement prior to expunging the mental health records of people who want to purchase firearms.

Federal law prohibits the purchase of guns by anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, but a judge can expunge that record if a person is deemed unlikely to endanger the public.

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat, has said he hopes to regain the support of Republican legislators who have abandoned the bill in the wake of Christie’s veto.

“They gave their unanimous support before because it is a common-sense, public safety bill that will help reduce gun violence. They will have another opportunity when the legislation is posted for another vote,” Sweeney said in an Oct. 12 statement.

In order to pass, the override will require 27 votes in the 40-member Senate. Democrats hold 24 seats.

In vetoing the legislation, Christie proposed a set of lesser reforms, including the requirement that a person previously involuntarily committed for mental health treatment demonstrate medical evidence of suitability to obtain a firearm.

Christie has a mixed record on gun control, a hot-button issue in the 2016 presidential race. He vetoed a 2014 bill that would have reduced the legal size of ammunition magazines.

In 2013, he signed a law requiring certain mental health records to be submitted to the federal background check system to determine if someone should be disqualified from owning a gun.

Reporting by Katie Reilly; Editing by Paul Simao

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