Following Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of three gun bills this August, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. Barbara Buono joined Seton Hall shooting survivor Nakeisha Vanterpool and her mother Leslie at a press conference on gun violence in New Jersey.
Christie has faced criticism for vetoing the bills on a Friday evening at 6 p.m., perhaps the time of week when news media are least active and thus less likely to advertise such controversial action.
"On Friday evening, Chris Christie failed to lead," Buono said. "He chose the NRA and the conservative base over families here in New Jersey." Buono emphasized her opposition to Christie’s veto of one particular bill to ban .50-caliber rifles in New Jersey.
In April, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Christie called for legislation to ban the .50 caliber rifle. In August, Christie said he believed the Legislature’s version of the bill was overbroad.
Christie’s justification failed to satisfy Buono, however. She suggested that the Governor’s change of heart is tied to Christie’s meetings with several influential pro-gun conservatives over the four-month span. Buono said most New Jerseyans favor reform of gun laws and accused Christie of being “out of touch.”
"This is a weapon that doesn't belong in the hands of regular citizens," Buono said. "It has no legitimate use in civilian life. None whatsoever."
Buono expressed concerns about the assault rifles, noting that anyone holding a firearms identification card can purchase the weapon. Since the law does not require renewal of these cards, someone with a recent history of violence or mental illness can buy a .50-caliber rifle with an ID card acquired prior to such a history, Buono said.
Buono supported a bill to require a more comprehensive background check system. Gov. Christie vetoed that proposal as well.
"He's real tough until it comes to standing up to the NRA," Buono said. "It is utterly irresponsible and unbelievable that he would go this far."
Leslie Vanterpool agreed with Buono and said Christie’s veto means young people like her daughter will continue to be in danger.
“My daughter has to wait for the next [shooting]? Is that what Governor Christie’s trying to tell us?” she said. “I need to wait to get another phone call at 2 o’clock in the morning?”
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