While everyone is reading the usual presidential politics into the move, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has vetoed yet another gun control bill coming out of the Democrat held legislature in his home state. With a pointed signing statement indicating how the legislature could work with him to solve actual problems related to the subject, he shot down a bill which would have immediately banned gun ownership for not only those convicted of domestic abuse, but anyone who even had a restraining order filed against them. (Opposing Views)
Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey conditionally vetoed a bill on Nov. 9 which would have banned those convicted of domestic violence and individuals subject to a domestic violence restraining order from owning a gun.
In his rejection message, Christie suggested harsher penalties for perpetrators of domestic violence and making it easier for victims to buy guns.
“We should favor new and sensible improvements to our laws rather than restatements of existing protections,” Christie wrote, according to NJ.com.
Lawmakers who supported the bill were stunned by the veto.
This bill had drawn national attention as it was being debated, including getting the support of Gabby Giffords. Christie’s reasons for the veto were understandable, though, on two different counts. First of all, people convicted of violent crimes against persons were already banned from gun ownership, the same as it is across most of the country. Making those convicted of domestic assault disqualified from gun ownership again really isn’t serving much of a purpose. It’s the second aspect of the bill which ran into real problems, though. If you are a crusader against domestic violence the idea of instantly seizing the weapons of anyone who had to have a restraining order lodged against them probably sounds great. Unfortunately, it ignores the fact that many people wind up getting “proactive” or maliciously motivated restraining orders filed, particularly when it comes to a couple in the midst of a hotly contested divorce or family squabble. Cops tend to err on the side of caution in these matters and get a judge to issue the order anyway and it’s generally a no harm, no foul situation in the long run. But with this rule in place a person with no chance to defend themselves against a false accusation could wind up either having to forfeit their weapons or go to jail in a matter of days. There was a provision for a licensed gun shop to “hold” the guns for people in such cases, but the guns would have to be picked up in ten days or they were essentially gone. Then you’re faced with a lengthy and expensive court battle to get them back if you clear your name.
The gallows humor aspect of the story is that it’s the Democrats claiming that Christie is playing politics with this. The same thing happened earlier this year when the New Jersey Senate managed to override Christie’s last veto of a gun control bill.
The governor said in a debate with other Republicans running for president that he had “vetoed 400 bills from a crazy liberal Democratic Legislature” and pointed with pride to the failure of every challenge. But his string of successes at thwarting lawmakers came to an end on Thursday when three Republican sponsors of the bill joined the Democrats in voting to override.
“It’s presidential politics,” said the Senate president, Stephen M. Sweeney, a Democrat from Gloucester County who is considered a probable candidate for governor in 2017. “The only person that objected to this bill was the governor.”
It’s pretty funny when Democrats claim that Christie is doing something for presidential political reasons but turn around in the same breath and talk about how he was “bragging” in a debate about how he’d never had his veto overridden. If there was any politics on display there it was by the Democrats who took a victory lap saying that they had finally removed that talking point from him.
Either way, if they override this one it will be one more case of chipping away at the rights of gun owners. This bill could have been rewritten to accomplish the stated cause while including adequate protections for the falsely accused.