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Cryan: Colorado Tragedy Shows Need to Give Authorities Ability to Seize Firearms from Those Who Pose a Threat to Others

(20th LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT) – Assemblyman Joseph Cryan on Friday said the fact that a psychiatrist warned police the Colorado movie theater shooter was having homicidal thoughts was further evidence of the need for his proposal to require firearms seizures when a mental health professional determines a patient poses a threat.
Cryan’s bill (A-3754) was among the 22 gun violence prevention bills approved by the Assembly in February.
“This bill could save lives,” said Cryan (D-Union). “Under current law, someone who is deemed homicidal and a danger can retain their weapons, even if the threat is considered credible and imminent. Rather than leave the door opened to yet another tragedy, we can close this loophole and save lives in New Jersey. It’s the right thing to do.”
The bill was approved 46-29 by the Assembly on Feb. 21.
According to documents released Thursday, a psychiatrist who treated James Holmes told police a month before the Colorado theater attack that Holmes had homicidal thoughts. The July 20 attack at a movie theater killed 12 and injured 58.
Cryan’s bill requires the Attorney General to seize a firearm that is in the possession of a person determined by a mental health professional to be likely to engage in conduct that poses a threat of serious harm to the patient or another person.
Specifically, the bill requires licensed medical professionals in the state, including psychologists, psychiatrists, medical doctors, nurses, clinical social workers and marriage counselors, to report to the Attorney General when, in their reasonable professional judgment, a patient they are treating is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to that patient or others.
The Attorney General would receive the patient’s name and other non-clinical identifying information to be used solely for the purpose of determining whether the patient has been issued a firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun or any other permit or license authorizing possession of a firearm.
If the patient has been issued a card or permit, the Attorney General is required to arrange for any firearm possessed by the patient to be seized pending a hearing.
A licensed practitioner who discloses a privileged communication in complying with the bill’s provisions is immune from civil liability in regard to that disclosure.
“The Colorado case is just another situation where people saw ominous signs but could do little more than provide a warning,” Cryan said. “We can do more. Let’s give experts and authorities the ability to take action to save lives.”