New Jersey gun rights advocates have mixed reactions to Gov. Christopher J. Christie’s decision to veto only parts of gun-control legislation this week.
“We hope this is an indication by the governor that he is open to a more reasoned discussion regarding the individual right of New Jersey citizens to possess firearms wherever they have a right to be,” said Frank Jack Fiamingo, president and founder of New Jersey Second Amendment Society, a recreational club that promotes the free exercise of our Second Amendment rights.
“Public officials from mayors to assembly members are exploiting a terrible tragedy involving children to distract people’s attention away from their own incompetency,” he said.
In reaction to the fatal mass-shooting in Dec. 14, 2012 at a grade school in Newtown Conn., New Jersey lawmakers introduced 13 consolidated gun control bills to the governor, after seven months of heated discourse at the state’s capitol in Trenton.
On Aug. 8 Christie signed 10 of the 13 bills; Aug. 16 he vetoed a ban on .50 caliber firearms and conditionally vetoed the two remaining bills. A “conditional veto” means that the legislation is dead, unless the legislature reconvenes to resurrect it through amendments that meet strict conditions imposed by the governor.
Despite the fact that NJ2AS members are pleased that the governor essentially vetoed the most offensive bills, Fiamingo said they feel very strongly that none of these bills deserved the governor’s consideration in the first place.
There are many obstacles contained in the law that renders our Second Amendment rights obsolete, he said. “In order to obtain a carry permit, for instance, New Jersey citizens must prove a justifiable need which is interpreted as an immediate threat, and nearly impossible to obtain.”
“Simple possession is even illegal in New Jersey,” he said.
Statistics show that the majority of gun crimes in the garden state occur in cities and are committed by gang members, drug dealers, and career criminals, he said. “Public officials have done nothing to address the real problems facing our cities; criminals will continue to break the law.”
Mental health records are not confidential anymore, said Fiamingo. “No longer is it the case that a person is adjudicated as mentally ill by a court of law; any individual, a nurse, a psychologist, or a mental health counselor can prevent you from exercising your Second Amendment rights.”
The provision is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, he said. “Medical health care professionals, who are not doctors, are now free to share with authorities the mental health records of anyone.”
He said personally he would probably support Christie in his last run for governor next year given the options. “Left between Christie and his democrat opponent state Sen. Barbara Buono, her standpoint on Second Amendment rights is decidedly worse.”
In a survey conducted by Quinnipiac University released last week, Christie leads Buono 58 percent to 30 percent.
“After seven months of battle over misguided legislation that will not stop another crime or prevent another tragedy, we are grateful that Governor Christie has finally ended the discussion on the worst of the bills by tossing them onto the scrap heap where they belong,” said Scott L. Bach, executive director and official spokesperson of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, an official National Rifle Association state affiliate.
The attorney and former member of law enforcement said the three bills that the governor essentially vetoed were the most concerning.
“These vetoes put gun-banning politicians on notice that exploiting tragedy to advance an agenda against legal gun owners, instead of punishing violent criminals, will not be entertained.
“New Jersey already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation,” he said.
Anthony P. Colandro, master instructor and owner at Gun For Hire the largest firearms instruction school in New Jersey, said, “He threw us gun owners a few bones, but did pass some bills we opposed.”
Politics not safety are the governor’s motives, said the education and training committee member of the NRA. “Christie has his eye focused on the 2016 presidential election.”
At this point, he said he will not support Christie for re-election. “I understand the need to be politically-moderate in New Jersey, but he really should switch to the Democrat party.”
Many gun owners are not pleased with the governor’s decision-making, he said. “The vast majority of our customers are thoroughly disgusted with Christie’s lack of support for the firearm community.”
Colandro, who is a board member of ANJRPC and NY2AS, said the governor should keep in mind that gun owners will take their disapproval to the voting booth. “Remember we are all law-abiding citizens and almost all of us are registered to vote.”