Last Updated:November 27 @ 11:14 am

Christie's Gun Stance at Odds With GOP

By Yellowbrix

Supreme Court BuildingNew Jersey's strict limits on carrying handguns in public could be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, putting Governor Christie on a collision course with members of his own party who see overturning the state's law as a prime opportunity to expand what the constitutional right to "bear" arms means.

Christie's administration is preparing a petition asking the court not to take an appeal of a lower court ruling that upheld New Jersey's law. That puts him at odds with those asking the court to overturn the law, including the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, a group of Republican members of Congress and attorneys general from states with more lenient laws.

Even before the bridge scandal weakened his poll numbers, Christie's positions on gun control made him an unacceptable presidential candidate to those Republicans nationwide who base their votes primarily on Second Amendment issues.

Christie called New Jersey's laws "sensible" last year even though gun-rights advocates consider many of them unconstitutional.

Christie did upset advocates for tougher laws last year when, facing pressure from a gun-rights group in the early primary state of New Hampshire, he vetoed a ban on a type of large ammunition he previously said should be banned.

But Christie has also defended the state's tight restrictions on permits to carry handguns outside the home, which require applicants to show a "justifiable need." That term has been defined by courts as having to show an imminent threat to the applicant's life, and a study cited in court papers said just 1,195 of the state's 6.7 million adults got a permit in 2011.

The Supreme Court already expanded gun rights in 2008 by interpreting the Second Amendment as granting an individual the right to own a gun for self defense in the home. The New Jersey case, known as Drake v. Jerejian, could expand that right to include defense outside the home.

More than three dozen congressmen, including Rep. Leonard Lance of Hunterdon -- who has been endorsed several times by Christie -- filed a petition this month asking the high court to take the case.

So did attorneys general from 19 states, including Florida and Georgia, where Christie has been or will be campaigning and raising money this year as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

Christie has said he supports laws that are effective, and is not predisposed to support or oppose gun laws. But the Supreme Court case would highlight his administration's defense of laws that are among the most restrictive in the country.

An issue in the GOP

Recent Republican presidential candidates all were more open to relaxing gun laws than Christie is. A national Quinnipiac University poll in September found that while the public overall is evenly divided between those who favor and those who oppose stricter gun laws, Republicans generally oppose stricter laws, 65 percent to 34 percent.

Gun-rights advocates are considered an especially powerful group in states that go first in the presidential nominating process. Iowa, which holds the first caucus, changed its laws in 2010 to restrict reasons sheriffs can deny permits. In New Hampshire, a WMUR- Granite State poll taken shortly after the 2012 shootings in Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School found that a ban on large- capacity ammunition clips was opposed by 60 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Tea Party supporters.

Challenging the state's law are several men who were denied New Jersey permits to carry handguns in public, along with the New Jersey Association of Rifle and Pistol Clubs, which is the state affiliate of the NRA.

Arguments that the handgun permit law violates the Second Amendment were rejected in federal district court and by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office successfully defending the law each time.

The state's brief opposing petitions asking the court to take the case is due March 14.

If the court does take the case, Christie would have to decide how to respond to questions about it as entrenched advocates on both sides of the issue try to make their arguments in the media. If Christie were to speak out to defend New Jersey's laws, he'd rile pro-gun voters. Or he could take a lower profile, and add to the concerns of gun-control groups worried he would cave to the gun lobby on the national stage.

"We in the Second Amendment movement in New Jersey will definitely make that a factor in the upcoming election unless the governor changes his behavior," Frank Fiamingo, president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, said, referring to the 2016 presidential election. "We're coordinating our efforts with other rights-oriented groups across the nation."

When contacted for this story, Christie's office would not comment directly on the arguments before the Supreme Court, but did release comments he made earlier defending the state's right to make its own gun laws.

At a news conference last year, Christie was asked whether he wanted Congress to pass stricter laws, and he said he did not because Congress could pass laws that would nullify state restrictions, including New Jersey's limits on carrying handguns.

"I didn't also like federal legislation that said if you had a right to conceal and carry in another state you can come and conceal and carry in New Jersey," Christie said at that April news conference, referring to a bill that passed the House but was defeated in the Senate in 2009. "It would undercut everything that has been done in New Jersey historically on that issue."

Challenging the law

The challengers to the handgun law include John Drake of Sussex County, who carries large amounts of cash for his job servicing automated teller machines. Also suing is Finley Fenton, a New York resident who serves as a volunteer reserve sheriff's officer in Essex County and was turned down for a permit by Judge Edward Jerejian in Bergen County.

Whether the Supreme Court will actually consider the New Jersey challenge is not clear.

The ruling in July by the 3rd Circuit upholding New Jersey's law said the Second Amendment does not grant a right to carry a weapon outside the home. But other circuits around the country have ruled the other way, or put tougher hurdles that Legislatures would have to clear to impose restrictions.

Often, but not always, the Supreme Court takes cases when lower courts disagree.

"They don't resolve all the circuit conflicts. Sometimes they let them sit," said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond and expert on the judiciary. "It may be sufficiently important that the Supreme Court would look at it, but you just never know."

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  1. chuckybComment by chuckyb
    February 26, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

    Another RINO revealed. Did you really think otherwise.

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    Rating: 4.4/5 (22 votes cast)
  2. hereticComment by heretic
    February 26, 2014 @ 1:22 pm

    Materialists control the majority of this country’s institutions. The concepts of good and evil are mere abstractions to them, and so they put all their faith in materialism. They cannot comprehend the reality that a murderer is evil, so they place blame on the tool that the murderer uses. In other words, materialists place blame for crimes on guns rather than on criminals.

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  3. rriderComment by Richard Rider
    February 26, 2014 @ 1:56 pm

    Leave corpulent Governor Chris “Soprano” Christie in charge of NJ (and their clogged freeways). We’ve got better options in 2016. MANY better options than Christie.

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  4. juicyfruit56Comment by juicyfruit56
    February 26, 2014 @ 2:36 pm

    Why doesn’t Christie go over to the Democrat Party that he so readily supports. This is one RINO that needs to go!

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    • 1776patriot2014Comment by 1776patriot2014
      February 26, 2014 @ 5:03 pm

      He’s already there, but Dem infiltrators can accomplish so much more when they have a few of their own running under the Repub flag, so it benefits them for him to stay right where he is.

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    • hkazComment by hkaz
      February 28, 2014 @ 10:55 am

      And take McCain, Flake, Graham, Hatch, Collins, and Ayotte with him.

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      Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
  5. rickosheaComment by rickoshea
    February 26, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

    That ought to take the bloom off his rose. We really need another RINO candidate.

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    Rating: 4.7/5 (14 votes cast)
  6. rriderComment by Richard Rider
    February 26, 2014 @ 2:50 pm

    Christie is SO bad, we even have better RINO candidates than him to chose from!

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    Rating: 4.8/5 (17 votes cast)
  7. ihveitComment by ihveit
    February 26, 2014 @ 5:57 pm

    well this is all a waste of time… even if you have the right to cancell carry open carry or simply buy a gun its no use

    you can buy all the guns you want but you cant find bullets for them.. not in local gun shops and stores around here anyhow..

    or you will be screwed

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  8. RobertRComment by RobertR
    February 27, 2014 @ 1:23 am

    Christi is no friend of the American people. He is a pathetic human being and has zero chance of being elected to anything outside of Jersey. And he does a good job of representing that self righteous Yankee ‘in your face’ attitude. No thanks.

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    • pistol packing mamaComment by txgoatlady
      February 27, 2014 @ 12:52 pm

      I see him as another Rudy Giuliani. Remember that he was put forth as the answer to beating the Democrats for POTUS but he fizzled out before he even started. All the hype and polls in the years prior to the election meant nothing by the time the primaries rolled around. New Jersey is right next door to NYC with the same type of big-government RINOs. The rest of the country will never go for him.

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  9. Pingback: Christie's Gun Stance at Odds With GOP

  10. dadComment by dad
    March 3, 2014 @ 6:59 am

    Christie is really an Obama-loving Democrat… he’d have to move to the right to become a RINO.

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  11. Pingback: 19 States Join Lawsuit Against NJ Gun Law | Agenda 21 Radio

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