N.J. Assembly passes 22 gun-control measures

8953659_448x252New Jersey’s Democrat-led Assembly passed 22 gun-control bills on Thursday that proponents say will help curb gun violence in the wake of the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

The measures, which have yet to clear the Senate, place limits on ammunition rounds, require mental health clearances and photo IDs for gun permits, and bar anyone on the federal terrorist watch list from obtaining a gun.

“We’ve got some of the best gun laws in the country, but we also know we have some things we can tighten up,” Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said before the votes. “That’s all the Assembly is seeking to do. We are not seeking to prevent law-abiding citizens from purchasing, owning, utilizing their guns. We are not trying to impede hunters and sportsmen in the state. We are doing some very sensible initiatives.”

Republicans zeroed in on several of the bills as haphazard and poorly written, and they were critical at the speed with which the legislation was moved through the chamber. The bills were advanced by committee in a special hearing last week.

“It’s unfortunate that in a year where we’ve seen tragic events such as Newtown, where serious attempts should be made at addressing violence in our society, that Democrats in New Jersey have decided to rush through legislation that is drafted poorly and doesn’t begin to solve the problems that we’ve seen across the nation with respect to violent shootings,” Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick said.

Republicans were thwarted in their request to hold the bills and wait for direction from an anti-violence task force commissioned by Gov. Chris Christie to look at gun violence, mental health treatment and violent video games.

A measure to keep guns out of the hands of people on the anti-terrorism no-fly list was approved by a vote of 63-3 with 10 abstentions, but most others were roughly equivalent to the political split in the chamber, 48 Democrats and 32 Republicans.

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