In response to the deadly Connecticut school shooting in Newtown, and other recent tragedies, legislation introduced this week is meant to ensure the mental stability of anyone authorized to purchase a firearm in the Garden State.

Under the measure sponsored by Assembly Democrat Joe Cryan, anyone applying for a firearms purchaser identification card or a permit to purchase a handgun would be required to pass a mental health screening administered by a medical doctor or licensed psychiatrist in New Jersey. The screening would be developed by the Superintendent of the State Police in consultation with the Commissioner of Human Services.

Assemblyman Joe Cryan, D-Union (Facebook)

“Newtown was a true eye opener for us,” said Cryan. “Based on what we know about the alleged shooter at this point, mental health may have played a key factor in this tragedy. And this appears to be a common thread in many of the mass shootings we’ve seen in recent years."

Currently in New Jersey, every law enforcement officer is required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in order to carry a firearm, but the rule does not apply to civilians.

Opponents Cite Burden in Process

Opponents of the proposed measure have said law-abiding citizens should not be subject to such a burden in a process that has been unchanged for so long.

Cryan responded to the objections:

"As a law-abiding citizen, you understand that laws change and evolve. The times have changed. Our culture has changed. There is clearly a diminished sense for the value of life."

A similar measure was introduced by fellow Assembly Democrat Angelica Jimenez. Under her bill, in addition, any card/permit applicants would be required to have an on-site inspection and evaluation of the household where the firearm will be located.