In response to Conn. massacre, N.J. prepares measures to reduce violence

Just days after the fatal shootings at a Connecticut school, a measure intended to reduce violent incidents in New Jersey is being introduced in the state Legislature.

The bill would declare violence a public health crisis in New Jersey so the state would qualify for funding from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to deal with the problem.

Sen. Ray Lesniak says the legislation also recommends the expansion of involuntary outpatient commitments to treat mental-health issues before they erupt into violence.

“There is no panacea,” said Lesniak, D-Union. “Violence will continue, but there are many cases where you can spot it ahead of time and prevent it.”

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The bill also calls for the state to establish a study commission on violence to suggest ways of reducing it.

Part of the problem is that children are being raised with a lot of exposure to violent entertainment, said Sen. Shirley Turner.

“They turn on the TVs, there’s nothing but violence,” said Turner. “You go to the movies, there’s nothing but violence. Even their computer games, their electronic games, it’s all based on violence, killing, and they seem to have adopted a very low premium for life.”

The bill urges the federal government to re-enact the ban on assault weapons and require background checks on all gun purchases.

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