Five years ago, the city of New Jersey became the first major American city to enact a mandatory waiting period after an individual who had been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for a crime committed by a mental patient.
At the time, the legislation was a first for the state, which has been working to close the mental health crisis by introducing new measures in a number of states.
Since then, the state has moved to expand that mandatory waiting periods to include mental health providers, while also increasing access to the help needed to get treatment.
But with gun control legislation, it seems like the state is just getting started.
On Monday, New Jersey Assemblyman Mike Gipson, a Republican, introduced legislation that would expand that waiting period to include everyone who has a mental illness or a mental disability, including people with HIV or a serious mental illness.
“It’s about keeping our streets safe, our streets from crime, and keeping our citizens safe,” Gipsson said in a statement.
Giperson has been pushing for a mandatory period since January, when he introduced a bill in the New Jersey Legislature that would make the state the first in the country to enact such a provision.
The state already has a mandatory mental health waiting period for those with serious mental illnesses.
But the new legislation would make that mandatory for anyone who has been involunted, committed to or was in a mental facility in the state for a serious or violent crime.
Gidson’s legislation would also extend the mandatory waiting time for people who are currently involuntarily institutionalized.
“If we don’t do it now, we can’t afford to wait any longer,” Gidso said.
Gopson said that many people who have a mental disorder, like those with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and alcohol or substance abuse disorders, would benefit from having a waiting period.
“I don’t want to be the next guy in New Jersey who is going to do something and end up dead,” Gopsson said.
“There are a lot of folks who have been waiting for years for a mental healthcare system that will actually be in place to treat them.”
While some advocates in the states most affected by gun violence have said that mandatory wait periods should not be used as a tool to prevent people from seeking treatment, Giposons bill would not require states to require people to have waiting periods for mental health treatment.
Instead, the bill would expand the legislation to include any other mental health condition, including addiction, substance abuse, depression and anxiety.
Gipsons bill is likely to be referred to the state Assembly, where it could be voted on by lawmakers and sent to Governor Chris Christie’s desk before lawmakers leave for the end of the legislative session in mid-April.
A spokeswoman for Christie did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gippingson has also been pushing legislation in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Maryland that would give people with mental illnesses the right to have a court-appointed attorney appointed to represent them in their claims for compensation for mental illness and for treatment.
And on Monday, Goposons office sent a letter to legislators in Pennsylvania and Maryland, asking them to join him in signing a bill that would establish a new state law that would require people with a serious and violent mental illness to have mental health professionals to be appointed to those claims.
“New Jersey should be leading the way,” Gipsson said.