Presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently affirmed his opposition of new gun control laws in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box. The interview was held shortly after a tragic shooting in Roanoke, Virginia, in which a news reporter and photojournalist were shot and killed on live TV.
The murderer, a former coworker of the slain victims and a self-professed admirer of other spree shooters, later committed suicide following a short police chase. While other lawmakers and activists are once again calling for additional gun control laws, Christie argued for enforcing existing laws that kept guns away from felons and those with mental health issues.
“I say we give doctors more authority to involuntarily commit people who talk about committing violent acts,” Christie said. “We have to make sure that we have more mental health records for people to review. These are all common sense things that the American people support and we already have on the books that are ready to be executed on. But you know what? It doesn’t make a headline for left wing liberal outlets who think the next thing we need is to just take more guns away from law-abiding citizens.”
Fellow presidential candidate Donald Trump held the same opinion.
“This isn’t a gun problem, this is a mental problem,” Trump told CNN. “It’s not a question of the laws, it’s really the people.”
Last week’s shooting in Virginia seems to have galvanized those in the presidential race to focus once again on gun control. Democratic front-runners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders immediately voiced their support for additional gun control measures, but they also touched on mental health.
“When people have mental health issues, when they’re a threat to others or themselves, they should be able to get counseling immediately. That is not the case right now,” Sanders said.
On Thursday, Clinton caused some controversy when she tweeted that “legitimate Second Amendment rights” needed to be balanced with preventative measures.
“We are smart enough—compassionate enough—to figure out how to balance legitimate Second Amendment rights with preventive measures.”—Hillary
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 27, 2015
Republican candidates, on the other hand, said that the priority should be enforcing current laws and keeping guns out of criminal hands.
“I’m more afraid of criminals than I am of guns,” said Christie, who previously said he would vigorously protect the rights of gun owners.
Critics point out that Christie’s mixed record when it comes to gun control legislation and zealous support of the state’s current gun laws have alienated some gun owners. Christie is currently lagging behind other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, but did shore up his gun rights reputation when he announced that he supported introducing a firearm-permit reciprocity law in New Jersey. The governor also declared in August that he would pardon several out-of-staters who were arrested for illegal firearm possession, even though they had permits in their home states.