By JOHN T. WARD
Three days after he vetoed a bill that would have prevented convicted carjackers, gang members and other felons from legally obtaining guns, Governor Chris Christie has said why: it’s “dopey,” he claimed, according to a report by the Record, of Bergen County.
The bill, co-sponsored by Red Bank resident and state Senator Jen Beck, is evidence of “stupid stuff” elected officials do to impress their constituents, Christie said at a campaign event Thursday in New Hampshire, where he’s competing in the Republican presidential primary.
As reported by former redbankgreen correspondent Dustin Racioppi:
Sponsored in the Senate by Republicans Christopher “Kip” Bateman and Jennifer Beck, the bill proposed barring people convicted of carjacking, gang criminality, terroristic threats and racketeering from owning or possessing a gun. Doing so would have added to the state’s banned list along with people convicted of other serious crimes, like homicide, arson and kidnapping.
But the bill was redundant because of what’s known as felon in possession laws, said Christie, a federal former prosecutor who is running for the Republican Party presidential nomination.
“I vetoed it and they’re like, ‘How could you possibly want gangbangers and carjackers to have guns?’ I said, ‘They can’t have guns already. There’s a federal law against them having guns.’ So why do I have to have a state law when there’s a federal law? Why? Because you want to put you name on the bill and then send it to your constituents to say, Look what I did?” Christie said at a town hall-style event in Meredith, N.H. “Part of the job of being governor or being president is to stop the stupid stuff. It’s to be the adult supervision in the room, because, I’m telling you, they do incredibly dumb stuff.”
State legislators who sponsored the bill didn’t get that explanation from Christie. Assembly sponsor Tim Eustace, D-Maywood, said he hadn’t heard from the governor’s office before he vetoed it Tuesday, and Bateman told The Record this week he was “shocked” and “surprised.”
“I thought this was a no-brainer,” Bateman said. “Maybe it has something to do with him running for president.”
Beck was one of five senators to co-sponsor the legislation (A4182/S1995), which the Assembly passed last June, 68-0; four lawmakers didn’t vote and eight abstained, according to NJ.com. In the Senate, it passed 37-0 with three senators not voting.
Christie hadn’t offered an explanation for his veto prior to Thursday night.
In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Beck, a Republican, said she stands behind her sponsorship of the legislation.
“This is a simple, non-controversial proposal that would align state and federal statutes, just as we do on a host of other issues,” she said. “The bill would only improve our system of law and avoid any conflicts or confusion with federal statute.”