Chris Christie, despite his recent turn as a show piece for the Trump campaign, is still the governor of New Jersey, and sometimes, it seems, the lone voice supporting the Second Amendment in the Trenton statehouse.
This week, Christie vetoed a pair of gun control bills and called on the Democratic-controlled state Legislature to make it easier for New Jersey residents to carry concealed firearms, according to this story from nj.com.
“The right to own a gun is a fundamental one enumerated in the Constitution,” Christie said in a statement. “I continue to oppose the relentless campaign by the Democratic legislature to make New Jersey as inhospitable as possible to lawful gun ownership and sales.”
Christie said he wants to make New Jersey a “shall-issue” state for concealed carry firearms, where authorities who issue licenses are obligated to do so unless there is a reason not to, such as a criminal record.
Currently, the New Jersey is a “may issue” state, in which the burden of proof is placed on the resident to show they have a justifiable need to carry a firearm. New Jersey’s current rules are particularly strict, requiring an individual to demonstrate and prove a specific threat to their life. CCW permits are rarely issued to anyone outside of law enforcement.
One of the bills vetoed by Christie was A2165/A3689, which was a companion piece to a resolution passed by lawmakers in June to stop regulations the governor introduced by executive action to loosen the justifiable need requirement in the state.
The bill sought to more strictly define the “justifiable need” requirement residents must show to obtain a permit. Those applying for a permit would have to demonstrate “the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry.”
Christie also sent back a bill to the Legislature that would have loosened an existing state law that is said to have stifled the exact thing it was designed to encourage: so-called smart guns.
The bill A1426 would have revised a mandate requiring that retailers offer a model of smart gun for sale, if and when one came to market.
The bill would create a roster of “personalized handguns” available for sale to the public and require most New Jersey gun retailers to carry them in their stores, according to this story from patch.com.
“This bill would require firearms dealers to purchase and stock personalized handguns, regardless of whether there is any demand for such firearms,” Christie said, adding: “It also would introduce unnecessary bureaucracy into the analysis of whether firearms equipped with this anticipated technology will represent a reliable option for individuals to protect themselves and their families in their homes.”
Christie vetoed similar legislation in January.
“Christie’s conditional veto proposed eliminating the ‘nearly-insurmountable ‘justifiable need’ standard and requiring the issuance of a carry permit to anyone who is not legally disqualified from possessing a firearm and who can demonstrate an understanding of the safe handling of a handgun,’ according to his office.”
“Governor Christie has made a bold and defiant statement to the Legislature in support of the Second Amendment,” said Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, in the story.
“Not only has he rejected their medieval schemes to block self-defense, but he has fired back in a way that forces them to choose squarely between citizens empowerment or victimization in the post-Orlando era of terror attacks on U.S. soil,” he said in the story.
Supporters of the bills weren’t so kind.
“The governor’s veto statement is alarmingly replete with right-wing political talking points and grandstanding,” said Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) in this story from app.com. “This bill was a start toward making our streets safer, particularly in our urban areas, but sadly, Gov. Christie has once again put his political ambitions above the public safety of New Jersey residents. That’s shameful.”
New Jersey already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, requiring residents to obtain a license to buy long guns (including background checks, fingerprinting, and mental health checks) and an individual permit for each handgun purchase. Additionally, only one handgun may be purchased per 30-day period. Many firearms are illegal in New Jersey because of apparently arbitrary features, like certain configurations of the AR-15. AK-47 platform rifles are banned along with M1 Carbines and a list of other specific firearms.
New Jersey also has a 15-round magazine capacity limit and strict rules about transporting firearms in vehicles.