Lawmakers Want To Classify Violence As A Public Health Crisis

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TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Raymond J. Lesniak and Shirley K. Turner which would declare violence as a “public health crisis,” would empanel a commission to look at ways to mitigate violence, and would recommend the federal adoption of stricter gun control standards is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on Jan. 28.

“We can no longer turn a blind eye to the violence that’s taking place daily on our streets and in our communities,” said Lesniak (D-Union.) “This is about taking a multi-pronged approach to reducing violence in New Jersey, whether it’s providing greater access to mental health treatment, leveraging federal funds from the CDC, or advocating on behalf of stricter gun controls along the lines of what President Obama announced yesterday. It’s past time that we incorporate a proactive, comprehensive strategy to keeping New Jersey residents safe.”

“Gun violence and other forms of violence perpetrated against New Jersey residents has reached epidemic proportions, and failure to respond is in essence shirking our responsibility to serve the public,” said Turner (D-Mercer and Hunterdon.) “This bill recognizes that there is no single cure-all to reduce violence, but rather, a whole host of things that we can do as a State to better protect our residents. If we can protect one New Jerseyan – if we can save one life – then this effort is worth making.”

The Senators’ legislation, S-2430, would declare violence a public health crisis in New Jersey, opening up the possibility of using funds from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to mitigate the crisis. The bill would recommend the expansion of the use of involuntary out-treatment commitments and mental health courts to treat mental health issues before they erupt into violence and divert mentally ill offenders to court-mandated treatment. It would also recommend federal adoption of the gun control measures announced by President Barack Obama yesterday, and would establish a Study Commission on Violence to make policy recommendations to reduce violence in the Garden State.

“I look forward to a thoughtful discussion on this bill, so that we can begin the long journey of making New Jersey safer for all of our residents,” said Lesniak.

The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 28 to review the bill.


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