With pretty much the entire GOP presidential road show up in New Hampshire this week the prospective candidates are all vying for face time with the press. That seems to include New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who is running hard to convince voters they they might be able to tempt him into the race if they really, truly insist they need him. Along with the rest of the pack, Christie is getting peppered with questions on every subject under the sun, and on Tuesday he was examined on the issue of Second Amendment rights. The rather vague answer which followed may prove a little troubling for conservatives.
Chris Christie took a centrist tone on guns Wednesday, calling for the “right balance” between gun control and the Second Amendment.
“We’ve got to make sure we have public safety, but on the other hand we have to protect people’s rights both as sportsmen and hunters and for self protection too, find the right balance,” Christie told a group of New Hampshire voters at Chez Vachon in Manchester, according to New Jersey newspaper The Record.
The comments came just over a week after news broke that the New Jersey Republican governor was not invited to address the NRA’s annual conference in Nashville last weekend. The other prominent GOP 2016 contenders were invited, with the exception of Sen. Rand Paul.
The Second Amendment was always going to be a tricky question for Christie as he attempts to navigate his way from being a successful executive in the very blue state of New Jersey to a prospective leader on the national level. After all, he is governor of the state with the second most horrible gun laws in the nation. Christie has, in the past, made a similar argument on this point as he has with other conservative issues. There is little he can do about it, or so the argument goes, because the Democrats run the legislature with an iron grip and he can’t summon new laws out of thin air on his own. To a certain extent that may be true, and it’s a defense which has been used by Republicans in traditionally liberal states to good effect in the past. But when you’re running for president it doesn’t really change the fact that you’re still the governor of the state with the second most horrible gun laws in the nation.
But even that excuse doesn’t completely cover the bases here. If Chris Christie had spent his entire time in office championing gun rights – even if such measures never reached his desk – and vetoed every gun restriction measure that the legislature sent to him, he would be on considerably more solid ground. After all, there’s not much more than that to be done in a virulently blue state. But Christie hasn’t been a simple bystander. He signed a raft of gun bills in 2013, one of which required the state to turn over New Jersey mental health records to the feds. Others were just as disturbing. If he felt that this is what he had to do in order to “go along to get along” in the Garden State, that was his choice, but that’s something he’ll be held accountable for in the national race he’s pondering now. And when he answers questions like this when discussing gun control on the national stage, well… I wouldn’t expect his NRA “C” rating to be going up any time soon.