Society

Chris Christie Was Wrong To Veto Controversial Gun Bill

| by Nicholas Roberts

Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a current presidential candidate, vetoed a proposal on Jan. 19 which would have rolled back one of the state's laws regarding personalized handguns. The Democrat-backed legislation was meant to give more incentives for gun manufacturers to invest in "smart gun" technology.

While State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, the bill's key sponsor, said it was ultimately not surprising that the governor vetoed the legislation, she called the decision "a little mystifying, because by his pocket vetoing of this legislation he keeps the current law on the books, which is much more stringent," according to NJ.com.

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What Weinberg is referring to is a 2002 state law which requires only "smart guns" to be sold in the state three years after they hit the private sector market. "Smart guns" are personalized handguns that use technology to approve who can and cannot use them. They are made to ensure that only the official owner of a gun is the one firing it.

However, this legislation was never actually enforced in New Jersey or anywhere else throughout the U.S., due to the fact that guns rights advocates pushed for smart guns to not hit the market (and thus not initiate the law's three-year countdown).

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Weinberg's new proposal aimed to loosen this requirement for gun dealers, making it so they would only be required to sell one smart gun model after the three-year countdown. Weinberg hoped that this less stringent law would clear the way for smart guns to hit the market without the interference of the NRA and other gun rights advocates.

And Weinberg's fears about the NRA's interference are well-founded. In 1999, Smith & Wesson started building a smart gun, and the NRA responded by organizing a boycott of the company, The Verge reported. 

And in 2014, a Maryland gun store owner pulled a smart-gun from his shelves just 24 hours after introducing it because his family received a litany of violent death threats from gun rights advocates, The Verge reported. The outrage was over the fact that if the gun owner started selling the smart gun on the market, the three-year stipulation in New Jersey's 2002 law would be triggered.

By vetoing Weinberg's common-sense legislation, Christie has shown he is more interested in his presidential ambitions -- and the NRA's support in the race -- than he is in governing the state of New Jersey, and it further cements his reputation as a part-time governor.

It is completely unfair to citizens that the NRA would not only use its clout to prevent the technology from being sold but also tacitly accept threats against business owners who want to sell the guns. The 2002 law needs to be reformed, but Christie has prevented that from happening, and by doing so, he has proven that the safety of New Jersey residents is not his top priority.

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Sources: NJ.com, The Verge / Photo Credit: NJIT via NJ.com