Governor must lead charge for sane gun laws

Anybody waiting for The former law-and-order man to be a leader for sensible gun laws and protection from Aurora-style massacres are going to be disappointed to see him once again put impressing his national party over the welfare of his constituents. But I see nothing wrong with promoting a law professor and state senate candidate reminding Christie of the leadership he has the opportunity now to show us. — promoted by Rosi

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One moment Americans are living their lives. The next, those lives are cut down by another senseless act of cowardly violence. This all-too-familiar story has played out across our country from commuter trains and college campuses to supermarkets and all manner of tragic points in between. In my town of Montclair, we still remember with collective horror the 1995 post office shooting that left two postal workers and two customers dead.

Now fear has struck our movie theaters. The theater in Aurora was a mere 12 miles from the suburban high school in Littleton – Columbine – that served as a dark and painful wake-up call to such senseless gun violence those many years ago.

But sadly, the gun violence our country continues to experience day in and day out has yet to lead to a renewed, sustained and successful call for tougher gun-control laws.

In fact, as the body counts attributed to senseless gun violence rack up, gun-control laws like the ones aimed at holding irresponsible gun manufacturers accountable die in Congress under a flood of NRA money. Some Democrats have made modest attempts to lead, introducing legislation to reauthorize the expired federal assault weapons ban.

Campaign cash and divisive rhetoric prevent progress. With firm Republican opposition, those bills have no real chance of success in gaining passage. Few Republicans have the policy differences and the ear of the leadership to help break the hold of the gun lobby. Few can help break through to help enact common-sense gun-control laws.

But there’s one Republican who has clout in his party who strikes a somewhat different tone.

Governor Christie.

The governor asserted Monday: “I think we have got enough gun laws now, and it is time for us to aggressively enforce the gun laws we have.”

Prior position

But that seems like he may be equivocating on his prior position. I’m not sure, but I hope not. You see, Christie has not been a typical NRA-sanctioned Republican. A former prosecutor painfully familiar with the damage caused by guns, Christie has said he supports New Jersey’s tougher gun-control laws, which include, it should be noted, a ban on assault rifles such as the AR-15 used in the Aurora attack.

In 2009, in fact, Christie went toe-to-toe with Sean Hannity on gun control, telling the Fox News anchor that he supports “common-sense laws” and restrictions on gun ownership, and that he “wants to make sure that we don’t have an abundance of guns out there.”

Citing respect for the families of the victims, Christie on Monday urged restraint on renewing the debate on gun control, allowing loved ones the room and respect to grieve “without opportunistic politicians out there trying to make political points in an election year.”

There is humanity in expressing concern for those who are grieving. But there will come a time when honoring the dead must also mean effectuating meaningful change so that others are not left grieving the same way.

With this latest tragedy calling out for leadership, Christie is situated to heed that call and to stand up and lead a movement among Republicans to renew the federal ban on assault weapons.

While he said this week that “the states themselves should have the ability to make their own gun laws,” clearly, renewing the federal assault weapon ban is in keeping with Christie’s desire not to “have an abundance of guns out there.”

Perhaps the governor can exercise his influence with congressional Republicans – none of whom was among the 67 co-sponsors to Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s 2007 federal assault weapons ban reauthorization bill. As a key supporter of Mitt Romney, perhaps Christie can also help bring the presumptive Republican nominee back toward his 1994 position of supporting an assault weapons ban.

As the public policy organization Think Progress noted, a renewed federal assault weapons ban would have placed the semiautomatic AR-15 rifle used in the Aurora attack under “a series of sharp restrictions.” Simply put, the law could have kept the gun from being out there.

Regardless of party affiliation, we all should agree that something should be done to prevent such tragedies from ever occurring again.

The people who went to the midnight show last week were a cross-section of their community and our nation; their injuries and deaths were not about partisan ideology. Political party lines should not keep us from addressing the problem of senseless gun violence in Colorado, in New Jersey or anywhere else in our country.

Tough-as-nails approach

Since he was elected governor of New Jersey, Christie has risen within the ranks of the Republican Party. Christie’s differences on gun issues with many in the Republican Party have not cost him any popularity within GOP circles. From Day One, the GOP fell in love with Christie and his tough-as-nails approach.

Christie is such a star that he has been mentioned as a possible keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention next month.

This tragedy presents another opportunity for good people to take the lead on the issue of gun control. It is a serious test of true leadership.

Christie should seize this moment, and use his prominent status within his party to lead them, and our country, toward a more enlightened position on gun-control – in due time.

Comment (1)

  1. deciminyan

    Most law enforcement people (including prosecutors) favor common-sense restrictions on gun ownership. Christie may have a set of personal beliefs on gun laws, but he will do whatever it takes to appear to be in sync with the Tea Party/Gun Nut agenda of the GOP. Maybe once his political star begins to fade, he’ll come around, but for now, don’t count on him to be a leader in making our schools, homes, and public venues any safer.


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