Late last week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed three gun control bills that would have placed a ban on .50 caliber rifles, established a new firearm ID card system, and required state police to report lost and stolen firearms. Christie’s decision came just one week after he approved other gun-related bills in a “comprehensive plan to address gun violence.”
The governor’s office issued a press release on Friday detailing the reasons behind Christie’s move against the bills, some of which his administration had previously supported.
“When it comes to the issue of guns and public safety, Governor Christie has said from the beginning we must focus on what actually works to reduce violence and not just what’s politically popular or sounds good in name only,” the release stated. “Gun control legislation should be grounded in common-sense, not based on emotion in the aftermath of a tragedy.”
In the statement, Christie’s office brushed off the idea of rehauling New Jersey’s firearm ID system as “not feasible.” Senate Bill 2723 proposed replacing the state’s current FID cards with encoded driver’s licenses, allowing gun owners to be easily identified. The new “smartcards” could be used in gun stores or by state police to bring up various data about the card’s owner, including purchase history and criminal record. The bill’s sponsor, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), previously said that he hoped it would set a new national model. However, Governor Christie vetoed the concept due to technological barriers, even going so far as to compare it to “smartguns,” or firearms that only work in the hands of their owners.
“The technology didn’t exist [in 2002], and it doesn’t now 11 years later.. Similarly, while the smartcard may be a well-intentioned idea, it is unworkable and impractical,” stated the release.
The prohibition of rifles cable of firing .50 caliber rounds, a measure previously supported by Christie’s administration, was also vetoed by the governor because very few of these firearms were used in crime.
“In reality the overly broad classification of firearms it calls for banning are lawfully used by competitive marksmen for long-range precision shooting and are not used by criminal interests because of their size and cost, which averages over $10,000 per firearm,” said the release.
The decision is sure to antagonize Christie’s pro-gun-control supporters. The governor previously approved of 10 gun-related bills that included submission of certain mental health records to the national background check system, prohibiting residents named in the federal Terrorist Watchlist from obtaining a firearm, and enhanced penalties for certain firearm offenses. More information on this legislative package can be found here.
More information on Senate Bill 2723 can be found here.
Image courtesy U.S. Air Force