In an effort to address and understand the root causes of violent crimes, and in response to President Barack Obama's recent proposed assault weapon ban, Gov. Chris Christie announced the development of a new task force Thursday afternoon called the NJ SAFE Task Force.
By creating NJ SAFE, Christie said he hopes to take a comprehensive look at where gun control, addiction, mental health, and school safety in New Jersey intersect. While the state has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, Christie said his hope is that the task force will focus on real, common sense measures that could be appropriate for New Jersey moving forward.
The bipartisan task force is comprised of six members and is being co-chaired by two former New Jersey Attorney Generals, Peter Verniero and John Degnan. The two chairs, along with members, Dr. Manuel Guantez, James Romer, Evelyn Sullivan, and Brian Zychowski, represent experts in the fields of mental health diagnosis and treatment, addiction services and treatment, gun control and law enforcement, and school safety.
According to a release, the creation of the NJ SAFE Task Force represents a follow through on Christie's public commitment to understand the cause of crime in society, including but not limited to gun crime, ownership and trafficking. The task force is expected to deliver a report containing recommendations to Christie within 60 days.
Obama's gun control plan, announced Wednesday, includes a reinstatement of a lapsed ban on assault weapons, a 10-round limit for gun magazines, and the requirement that all prospective buyers be subject to background checks before they can purchase a gun, among other provisions.
In the aftermath of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 28 dead, including 20 children, .
When it comes to preventing violence and mass shootings, society needs to address and overcome the stigma of mental health and also consider the portrayal of violence in various forms of media, including video games.