TRENTON - Gov. Christie will get his first chance to change state gun laws after the Senate granted final approval Monday to several bills.
A handful of measures aimed at reducing gun violence passed both Democratic chambers with bipartisan support, including a bill that requires state authorities to report certain mental-health records to the federal background-check database. That bill passed the Senate, 36-1, Monday.
State and federal laws already ban gun ownership for those who have been involuntarily committed for mental-health treatment. But New Jersey, like many states, has not regularly shared the information. The federal government cannot require states to turn over the records.
The bill approved Monday requires state authorities to send the records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check system.
Christie has said he supports the records transfer, calling it a "loophole" that should be closed.
The Senate also unanimously passed a bill to create a task force to study school security and a bill to toughen penalties on gun traffickers. The task force bill heads to Christie's desk. The gun-trafficking bill will be taken up by the Assembly.
Other gun-control measures passed along party lines, including a measure that would require state law enforcement to gather information on gun trafficking. Another bill that won Democratic support would give those who own an illegal handgun or rifle 180 days to transfer ownership or surrender the weapon. Both bills now head to the Republican Christie's desk.
Both the Assembly and the Senate are working on additional gun bills, including a plan from Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) to encode gun-ownership information on driver's licenses. That bill was withheld from a vote Monday because of a drafting error. It awaits a vote in both chambers.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D., Essex) said Monday that the Assembly would consider Sweeney's bill even though he blocked the Assembly's effort to reduce magazine capacity. The Assembly in February approved a measure to restrict magazines to 10 rounds, down from the current limit of 15. Sweeney does not support the bill.
"While the Senate package is incomplete without ammunition magazine limits, we will review the revised bills to see if they continue to meet the Assembly's standards," she said in a statement issued Monday. "If so, the Assembly will move forward appropriately while continuing the fight to limit ammunition capacity."