Chris Christie’s campaign is flailing about for relevance and attention with a GOP electorate that has largely passed him by. With the ascension of Carly Fiorina and John Kasich, he stands to risk not even being in the top 10 anymore and failing to make the larger television debates. Part of the problem is that Christie doesn’t seem to really know what kind of campaign to run and doesn’t really seem comfortable even in his own skin, which is what made him such a popular proposed candidate back in 2012, when he passed on running.
A great example of this is Christie’s recent hedging on guns in the wake of the Roanoke tragedy yesterday. While everyone and their dog over the last few days has been insisting in tougher gun laws, Christie tried to make waves by saying that we didn’t need any more gun laws:
After a gunman opened fire and killed two people during a live television interviewin Roanoke, Virginia on Wednesday, several politicians renewed calls for stricter gun control legislation. But Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is advocating against increasing gun laws, saying the country should focus instead on mental health issues.
“The fact is that we need to have more information about people’s mental health background,” Christie said in an interview with “CBS This Morning” early Thursday. “But we don’t need new laws in this country to be able to do that. We have laws that exist now. We just need to enforce the ones we do.”
There are a couple glaring problems with Christie’s statement. First of all, it seems like Christie is suggesting that people who obtain guns should have to submit to some sort of mental health check. After all, the Roanoke shooter himself successfully passed a background check – so clearly the laws we already have in place are not sufficient to provide the mental health information Christie wants, and what he is proposing is a more intrusive look at “mental health” information than what currently exists when a person purchases a gun.
Second, Christie’s rhetoric is completely inconsistent with his record as a governor. During Christie’s tenure, Christie signed into law numerous extensive new gun laws, indicating that he does believe that new laws are needed. Included in these bills were measures that:
- increases the penalty for illegally transferring a firearm to someone under 18, though it allows for transfer for instructional and training purposes;
- increases penalties for firearms offenses defined as gun trafficking;
- increases penalties for unlawful possession of firearms by making them crimes of the first-degree;
- declares violence a public health crisis and establishes a “Study Commission on Violence”;
- allows law enforcement agencies to impound motor vehicles for certain crimes and offenses;
- clarifies that information about the total number of firearms-purchaser ID cards and permits to purchase a handgun issued in a municipality are public records, while also exempting specific firearms records from the state’s open public records law;
- disqualifies people named on the federal Terrorist Watchlist from obtaining firearms ID cards or permits to purchase handgun;
- requires submission of certain mental health records to National Instant Criminal Background Check System;
- and creates a 180-day window to allow people to dispose of illegal guns.
Commenting on these regulations, Christie praised the fact that he had taken New Jersey’s already tough gun regulations and made them even tougher:
“These commonsense measures will both strengthen New Jersey’s already tough gun laws and upgrade penalties for those who commit gun crimes and violate gun-trafficking laws,” he said. “As elected leaders, our first duty is to maintain public safety, and these new laws will help reduce gun violence and keep our streets and communities safer.”
Let us also not forget Christie’s debacle-tastic handling of the Shaneen Allen case – in which a woman who legally purchased a firearm and obtained a carry permit in Pennsylvania where she worked was initially sentenced to a multiple-year prison sentence for carrying that firearm into New Jersey under the erroneous belief that her permit was valid. Shaneen was allowed to languish through the system for the better part of two years before relentless public pressure finally led Christie to pardon Shaneen this April (in a transparent attempt to shore up his conservative support for his Presidential run).
Commenting on the pardon of Shaneen, Christie dishonestly attempted to throw his legislature under the bus:
At a recent town hall-style meeting, Christie said that the Democratic majority in the Legislature was an impediment to changes to the state’s gun laws and that he would use executive tools, such as pardons, where he could.
There is no doubt the New Jersey legislature is hostile to guns, but the idea that Christie has been attempting to repeal some of New Jersey’s ridiculous gun laws, instead of actively trying to make them stricter, defies the historical record and Christie’s own pronouncements on the matter.
As Christie sinks in the polls and from the public view, he is trying to pretend that he is something he’s not: a friend of the Second Amendment. His record, however, speaks for itself.