Christie task force on guns urges N.J. to outlaw ‘straw purchases’ of firearms

    A task force on guns and violence in New Jersey has recommended a new law that would specifically ban “straw purchases” of weapons.

    The panel appointed by Gov. Chris Christie is calling for legislation making it a crime to buy a gun for someone else who is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

    State Sen. Sandra Cunningham said such a law would make a difference.

    “One of the first pieces of legislation that I was able to pass as a state senator was our ‘one handgun per month bill’ that we hoped would slow down straw purchasing,” said Cunningham, D-Jersey City. It’s still been a very big issue, and we’re still getting the guns on the streets.”

    In its report issued Wednesday, the task force also recommended that courts be authorized to order the seizure of firearms from individuals who are arrested or ordered to undergo a psychiatric screening.

    Mental health officials caution jumping to a conclusion that anyone who has a screening should be considered dangerous.

    “I think we have to be cautious about immediately jumping to the conclusion that because one is experiencing some sort of mental health difficulty that they must be considered to be dangerous, that we should be immediately enter their home and confiscate any weapons that might be present,” said Phil Lubitz, associate director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness New Jersey

    The governor’s office says Christie will review the recommendations and current legislative initiatives and will make his specific proposals in the next 10 days.

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