Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) said Thursday that enforcing existing gun laws should take precedence over new legislation, a day after the deadly shooting of two journalists during a live broadcast.
"I’ll tell you what I am more scared of, I’m more scared of criminals than I am of guns," the 2016 presidential contender said during an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
“The deaths are an awful tragedy, but let’s focus on what the real problem is: We’re not enforcing the law in this country,” Christie added in another interview on "Fox & Friends." “We’ve got plenty of laws on the books that deal with gun violence; we just don’t enforce them."
On Wednesday, a reporter and a camera man for local Virginia station WDBJ7 were slain while conducting an interview on camera. The suspected gunman later committed suicide while being apprehended by police.
President Obama said the shooting incident "breaks my heart" and added that the number of gun deaths in the U.S. surpasses deaths from terrorism.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest pointed to Congress's inability to move on gun legislation.
"This is another example of gun violence that is becoming all too common in communities large and small," Earnest said Wednesday.
Christie on Thursday cited his own record on crime, noting that the crime rate in Camden, N.J., fell dramatically after policing reforms as governor.
"I think most Americans are just tired, tired of violence, tired of lawlessness, and we want folks to do something about it," Christie said in another interview on "CBS This Morning."
Christie has so far failed to climb into the top tier of Republican presidential candidates, taking just 4 percent in a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday, behind eight other candidates.
Other presidential contenders were also quick to react to the tragic shooting.
The slaying led some Democrats, like presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports Paul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book MORE, to call for action to "stop gun violence."
But GOP front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE said Thursday that the nation's gun violence stems more from issues relating to mental health.
"First off, we should be doing more about mental health in this country. The fact is, we need to have more information about people's mental health background," Christie agreed on CBS.
"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 that we do," he added.