Gov. Christie walks fine line on gun control

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) still supports the state’s gun control laws despite his administration not defending some of them in court, according to a spokesman for the governor.

Gun control is a thorny issue for Christie; he is widely seen to be preparing a run for president in a party that is staunchly against gun regulations, but at the same time, he is governor of a heavily Democratic state.

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“The governor supports New Jersey’s already tough gun control laws,” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak told the Newark Star-Ledger Thursday. The paper reported that Drewniak pointed out that the county prosecutor who did defend the gun-control laws is supervised by the administration.

The statement comes after a state judge on Monday called out the Christie administration for not defending a gun control law in court. Judge Jane Grall wrote that the state attorney general, part of the Christie administration, “regrettably” declined to defend the law despite being the state’s “chief law enforcement officer.”

The judge upheld the law, which requires a strict standard of “urgent necessity” to qualify for a concealed-carry permit, anyway.

Christie’s office did not respond to a request for further comment on his gun control views or why the attorney general did not defend the concealed-carry law in court.

Christie has long been facing a balancing act on gun control. In August, his views were thrust into the spotlight when the legislature sent him a slew of new gun regulations. 

It drew national attention when Pro-Gun New Hampshire, a gun rights group in the important presidential primary state, urged Christie to veto the bills, calling the decision “an acid test” of his views.

Christie ended up vetoing some and signing others. The group says that since then it has concluded that Christie comes down too far on the gun control side.

“He didn't do exactly the right thing with the legislation that was on his desk several months ago, and since then he has publicly made anti-gun statements,” Sam Cohen, the CEO of Pro-Gun New Hampshire, told The Hill.

He added that the group is influential in the state and “if Governor Christie does run for president, we shall pass the word that he's not one of our favorite people.”

Christie signed bills in August to bar gun purchases by people on the terrorism watch list and require the submission of information on people who are banned from purchases to a national database. Gun rights groups opposed both. But Christie also agreed with them in vetoing provisions banning the powerful Barrett .50 caliber rifle and overhauling the state firearm ID system.

A different challenge to the concealed-carry law is slated to go before the state Supreme Court. It will again be defended by a county prosecutor, not the attorney general.