- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The state Senate failed Thursday to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a measure requiring law enforcement to be notified if potential gun buyers seek to expunge mental health records, and lawmakers are asking whether the failure raises public safety concerns.

It was the 52nd time since Christie took office in 2010 that lawmakers tried to override a veto but failed to gain enough Republican support for the necessary two-thirds majority. Christie has touted his veto record on the campaign trail as he seeks the GOP nomination for president.

The bill passed unanimously in both chambers earlier this year, and Democratic senators implored their Republican colleagues on the Senate floor to support it again.

Senate President Steve Sweeney said this was a commonsense piece of legislation that all legislators were united on, and the failure to overcome Christie’s veto could have dire results.

“It’s remarkable how they can just turn their backs on the people of the state,” Sweeney said in an interview after the vote. “God forbid someone who has a mental health issue has their record expunged and gets a gun and kills somebody. How do you live with yourself?”



None of the override’s opponents spoke during the floor debate.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. was one of lawmakers who decided not to support the veto override. He said afterward he would tell voters he changed his mind because bills always go through a process that involves both the Legislature and the governor.

“This is a continuation of that process where you try to work towards a good compromise to find the best common ground that can be passed on a bipartisan basis,” Kean said.

The Democratic-controlled Senate came within two votes of overriding Christie before Sweeney abruptly postponed the vote. Two Republicans sided with the Democrats, while two abstained. One Democrat and a Republican were absent.

Sweeney said he would try for the override again as soon as next month.

Lawmakers say the bill would provide judges the latest information on an applicant, including pending charges.

Christie conditionally vetoed the measure in August, saying it could confuse a cumbersome area of law.

Instead, Christie called for implementing a plan that includes possible involuntary commitment of those who could be considered dangerous if their illness were untreated.

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