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Christie Names Verniero, Degnan To Task Force on Societal ViolenceGov. Chris Christie on Thursday appointed a task force headed by two former attorneys general to study violence in New Jersey and to suggest ways to reduce it.
2013-01-17 07:47:20 PM
Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday appointed a task force headed by two former attorneys general to study violence in New Jersey and to suggest ways to reduce it.
The action came as the federal government and other states are moving toward stronger gun-control laws in the wake of the Dec. 14 mass killing of elementary school children in Newtown, Conn.
Christie said the New Jersey SAFE Task Force, chaired by John Degnan and Peter Verniero, will look at potential gun-control reform but will also study measures relating to addiction, mental illness and school safety and security.
"I will be willing to consider supporting any recommendations. There are no predetermined outcomes here," Christie said at a press conference.
"The unfortunate and harsh reality is that we're never going to prevent all violence. Bad people will do bad things," he said. "But this is time for an honest conversation."
He said the task force will have 60 days to make its recommendations.
Gun control advocacy groups, according to Christie, rank New Jersey second behind only California in having the most restrictive firearms-control laws.
Christie was asked about what he thought about the recommendations from the National Rifle Association that armed, retired police officers be put into all public schools.
"I don't think that having schools as armed camps is appropriate," he said. "But I will be willing to listen to anyone who shows me data" that says that would reduce violence.
Christie said he would welcome suggestions from advocacy groups on both sides of the gun-control issue. "I'm not afraid of anybody, but I'm willing to listen to all of them. None of them have all the answers, even if they think they do," he said.
Degnan, a Democrat, was attorney general from 1978 until 1981. He then became counsel to Chubb Group and most recently was its chief operating officer until his retirement in 2010.
Verniero, a Republican, was attorney general from 1996 until 1999 and a justice of the Supreme Court from 1999 until 2004. He currently is with Sills Cummis & Gross in Newark.
Also serving on the task force will be Dr. Manuel Guantez, the chief executive officer of Turning Point Inc. in Fairfield, a substance abuse treatment facility; James Romer, the director of Monmouth County Services for Monmouth Medical Center; Evelyn Sullivan, the managing director of Daytop Village of New Jersey in Manahawkin, an addiction treatment facility; and Dr. Brian Zychowski, the superintendent of the North Brunswick Board of Education.