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Monday, July 07, 2014

Preventive Detention

Last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have reduced the maximum size of a gun magazine from 15 to 10.  Christie claimed that it would not have reduced gun violence: “Nor is it sufficient to claim that a ten-round capacity might spare an eleventh victim.”nj.com

But Christie did more than veto the bill.  He offered in its place a new standard for involuntary civil commitment of people who may not be deemed dangerous, “but whose mental illness, if untreated, could deteriorate to the point of harm.”nj.com  A similar proposed expansion of the civil commitment standard is pending in Congress (H.R. 3717).

The merits and demerits of the magazine size and civil commitment bills are beyond the scope of this post.  I want only to observe that expanding civil commitment to prevent violence falls within a long U.S. tradition of preventive detention.  Other targets have included Japanese Americans, terrorists, mobsters, and sex offenders.my article  Most directly on point, Virginia also broadened its civil commitment standard after the Virginia Tech massacre, but didn’t spend the money needed on beds to give the change any practical effect. 

Posted by Fredrick Vars on July 7, 2014 at 01:49 PM | Permalink

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