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An attempt to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a gun-related bill failed Thursday in the Senate.

The bill would have required prospective gun buyers to notify the police if they sought to expunge mental health records. Christie conditionally vetoed the bill, which had passed the Legislature unanimously, rewriting it into a set of mental-health treatment reforms he proposed last year in vetoing a bill seeking to reduce the maximum size of gun magazines.

Though the Senate passed the bill 38-0 originally, the override vote Thursday was only 25-11 – two votes short of what is needed to override a governor’s veto in the Senate.

Under terms of a state law Christie signed in 2013, New Jersey is required to provide mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, in compliance with federal laws passed in 1993 and 2007. It has transmitted 425,000 records of mental health adjudications dating back to the 1970s.

Would-be gun buyers who were formerly committed to a mental institution but have since recovered may be ineligible to legally buy a firearm because of the mental health records, but a judge can direct the record to be expunged from NICS if he or she finds that the applicant isn’t likely to act in a dangerous manner.

Applicants seeking an expungement do so in the state that submitted the record to NICS and must notify officials at their former institution and the county adjuster. The bill Christie vetoed would have added law-enforcement agencies to the notification list, such as the state attorney general, county prosecutor and municipal chief of police for the place they currently reside.

Christie has vetoed nearly 400 bills since he became governor.


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