N.J. Gov. Christie vetoes bill to reduce gun magazine capacity


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks in August of 2013. (Credit: CNN)

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NEWARK, N.J. — Pushing back against gun control advocates, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill Wednesday that would reduce ammunition magazine limits from 15 rounds to 10 rounds.

Explaining his decision, the Republican governor bristled at the argument that reducing the legal maximum would spare lives in a mass shooting.

“It simply defies common sense to believe that imposing a new and entirely arbitrary number of bullets that can be lawfully loaded into a firearm will somehow eradicate, or even reduce, future instances of mass violence,” he wrote in his conditional veto response to the Democratic-controlled legislature.

“Nor is it sufficient to claim that a ten-round capacity might spare an eleventh victim. For if that was true, then why wouldn’t a nine-round limit be more humane?”

While Christie has vetoed gun control measures in the past, he did not say ahead of time where he would come down on the latest bill. In his statement, he said the magazine proposal was a “trivial approach to the sanctity of human life.”

The potential presidential candidate suggested the real root of gun violence is a broken mental health system, and he sent back to the legislature several recommendations for reform.

“Time and again, the headlines surrounding instances of mass violence paint an unmistakable portrait of individuals in crisis falling through the broken safety nets of screening, treatment, and commitment,” he said.

His proposals included steps that would make it easier to involuntarily commit people who could be potentially dangerous to society. He also recommended new standards for involuntary outpatient treatment and a new training program for first responders dealing with mental health crises.

Gun control advocates argued a 10-round magazine limit could stall a shooter when trying to reload. They point to the example of Jared Lee Loughner, who was using a 33-round magazine in the 2011 Tucson, Arizona shooting that left six people dead and injured 13 others, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Loughner was wrestled to the ground by bystanders when he stopped to reload.

“Governor Christie has chosen to put gun industry profits ahead of saving lives,” said Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand in a statement.

“A ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines would protect law enforcement and the general public, and it would limit the firepower available to criminals and mass shooters. By vetoing this bill, Governor Christie has turned his back on an opportunity to improve public safety in communities across the state.”

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