- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) - Republican Gov. Chris Christie appeared unfazed Monday by a state rival’s plan to override a veto that could involve sending state troopers to force reluctant lawmakers to vote on a bill about prospective gun buyers’ mental health records.

Christie, who’s seeking the Republican presidential nomination, dismissed Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney’s comments on the campaign trail in Manchester, New Hampshire. It’s the latest scene in the Democratic-controlled Legislature’s attempt to override Christie, something it has failed to do 52 times because Republicans have not bucked the governor.

“I’m not the least bit worried,” Christie told NJ.com. “Steve can threaten whatever Steve wants to threaten. I understand his frustration of never having been able to override a veto, and I don’t know what he’s going to do if he ever does override one. I wish he’d try to pick something that matters.”

Sweeney announced plans to hold an override vote Oct. 22 on a measure that mandates law enforcement agencies be notified when a potential gun buyer seeks to expunge mental health records.

The Senate also will take the procedural step of placing the Senate under call, which means no senator would be able to abstain or skip the vote, Sweeney said in Princeton.

“Everyone is going to vote on this,” he said. “No one is going to hide.”

He added: “Would you want to be one of the senators that had the state police come and get you? I don’t think so.”

Sweeney, flanked by other Democratic lawmakers, two Democratic Assembly candidates and about two dozen supporters, called the measure “common sense” reform.

Sweeney is only interested in grabbing headlines, said Republican Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., who says he’s working on a “solution” that combines the governor’s suggestions with those in the bill.

“This isn’t just about guns,” Kean said. “This is about public safety.”

The issue stretches back to a bill that passed the Legislature unanimously earlier this year. The legislation would require those seeking to have mental health records expunged to first contact law enforcement officials.

It’s one that the court system recommended to lawmakers, Sweeney and others say, but Christie issued a conditional veto arguing it would confuse a cumbersome area of law. Instead, he called for implementing a plan that includes possible involuntary commitment of those who could be considered dangerous if their illness goes untreated.

Democrats say the veto message did not address the issue of expunging mental health records of potential gun buyers.

An override attempt in September came close to succeeding but was postponed when it became clear Sweeney did not have the votes.

The bill was co-sponsored by Republican state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman,” who abstained during the test vote last month. Bateman and Republican state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, who also abstained, didn’t reply to messages seeking comment. Bateman’s district includes Princeton.

Sweeney would need their votes to reach the two-thirds necessary to overcome Christie’s veto.

Senate rules indicate a majority of senators may send the sergeant-at-arms or any other authorized person with a warrant for absent senators if at least 21 senators are not present at the opening roll call of a meeting.


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