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New Jersey

Christie forms panel on violence control

Republican says no time to grandstand

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican seeking re-election, has formed a task force on violence control that will study state firearms laws and the role of drugs, mental health and school safety.

The panel will report back to the governor in 60 days, Christie said yesterday at a press briefing in Trenton. Emotion and “empty rhetoric” shouldn’t guide the gun debate, he said.

“Bad people will do bad things no matter how hard we try to stop it,” said Christie, 50. “This is not a time to grandstand and it’s not a time for politics.”

Christie had said as both a federal prosecutor and a candidate for governor that he supported New Jersey’s assault weapons ban. Since the Dec. 14 slaying of 20 children and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., school, he has said he would be willing to discuss stricter gun controls as part of a more comprehensive package that deals with mental health, substance abuse and violence in video games.

“It’s not good for us to have a conversation about just one thing,” Christie said in response to a question Wednesday at a town hall meeting in Manahawkin. “We need to talk about what we can do as a society. If it’s just about gun control, then I’m not going to be a part of it.”

President Obama on Wednesday announced proposals aimed at reducing gun violence, including universal background checks on firearms buyers and a sales ban on assault weapons and high- capacity ammunition magazines, such as those used in the Newtown slayings and the July 20 shootings at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater that left 12 dead and 58 wounded.

New York was the first state to act on growing calls for tighter limits on weapons since Newtown. The legislature this week approved Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bill to toughen gun controls and make it easier to keep firearms from the mentally ill.

In New Jersey, Democrats who control the legislature have introduced measures that would ban magazines that hold more than five rounds of ammunition and require anyone applying for a handgun permit to pass a mental-health exam.

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