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In Iowa a few days ago, Chris Christie was challenged on his Second Amendment record. In response, the questioner found himself on the receiving end of a classic Christie barrage:
If you want to debate me, come in the top ten, run for president, and come… to Cleveland in August. [But] here’s what you’ll have to do then and what you failed to do this morning… come up with one fact, one thing I’ve done as Governor of New Jersey that’s done — anything — anything not to support the rights of legal gun owners.
As Christie points out — much in the fashion a tiger points out that it’s hungry — the questioner had a few of his facts off: Christie vetoed bans on magazines with more than 10 rounds and on .50-caliber rifles. Additionally, he’s pardoned or commuted the sentences of three otherwise-lawful citizens who found themselves charged with felonies for violating New Jersey’s draconian anti-carry laws, and is reviewing a fourth such case. As he puts it elsewhere in the exchange, he’s not “anti-gun” and puts the blame on the rapacious Democrat-controlled legislature.
With all due respect to the governor, this is rather pathetic. Christie’s political brand is a willingness to speak truth to entrenched power and to show leadership against it. I didn’t make things worse, put out some new fires, and ameliorated some of the worst abuses on a case-by-case basis is hardly a record to be particularly proud of, especially for a self-styled bullier of bullies
Consider the commutations and pardons. Later in the clip, Christie says that he and his staff are reviewing the case of Brian Fletcher. Fletcher, a North Carolina resident, was in New Jersey to repair cell towers earlier this month and found himself under felony charges when he disclosed to an officer that he had a secured firearm in his vehicle. Does Christie think such laws are good laws? Does he think it’s just for people like Fletcher, Shaneen Allen, Steffon Josey-Davis, and Brian Aitken to have their fortunes and freedoms depend on — there’s really no other word for it — a boon from the governor?
As our own Charles Cooke and Kevin Williamson have argued, Christie has little to lose as governor — and much to gain as a presidential candidate — by trying to advance Second Amendment freedoms in his state, however incrementally. With yet another of these cases in the news and his poll numbers flagging, this seems like the perfect opportunity for Christie to pick a fight with his legislature.
If he doesn’t, he’s likely to find out how little “not anti-gun” means elsewhere in the country.
Update: On watching the video again, I realize that I mis-attributed the phrase “not anti-gun” to Christie. He rejects the label “anti-gun” repeatedly; for example, at 1’55” he asks “Now is that somebody who’s anti-gun and and anti-gun rights?”; about fifteen seconds later, he asks “What are your facts to back up that I’m ‘anti-gun?'” But he never actually uses the phrase “not anti-gun” to describe himself.Published in