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Are gun owners so naïve as to buy Christie's recent 'pro-gun' conversion?

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Spots unchangedPhoto by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

New Jersey Governor and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie has been drawing intense criticism from the forcible citizen disarmament lobby (and their mass media lapdogs) for the past week, over his veto of a New Jersey bill lowering the magazine capacity limit from 15 rounds to 10. That limit would, of course, only have applied to private citizens, and not law enforcement or other government hired muscle.

That veto has also brought Christie some praise from gun rights advocates, such as the Tea Party Network News:

As America geared up for celebrating our Independence Day, New Jersey governor Chris Christie did something very American: he stood up to gun-grabbing tyrants.

On July 2nd, Christie vetoed A2006, a bill that would have limited firearm magazine capacities to 10 rounds in New Jersey.

Likewise, the Citizen's Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms went so far as to "congratulate" Christie for his veto:

“Considering the tremendous pressure that was exerted on the governor by gun prohibitionists from all over the country, it took a clear understanding that penalizing law-abiding citizens rather than punishing criminals is a far more effective deterrent to violent crime,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “We join our good friends at the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs and the New Jersey Second Amendment Society in congratulating the governor’s correct decision, and we encourage Garden State citizens to call and thank the governor.”

Has everyone forgotten Christie's rabidly anti-gun history? One who hasn't is Olivia Nuzzi, writing for the far left Daily Beast. She makes no attempt to hide her own anti-gun extremism, but that does nothing to change the fact that she is telling only the truth about Christie in her "Chris Christie's Faking it on Gun Rights":

Christie’s first two campaigns were run on his support of New Jersey’s assault weapons ban, in place since 1990, which includes the 15-round magazine cap.

In April 1993, the future governor (then just a lawyer) announced he would run for the State Senate. He told the Star-Ledger, “The issue which has motivated me to get into this race is the recent attempt by certain Republican legislators to repeal New Jersey’s ban on assault weapons...In today’s society no one needs a semiautomatic assault weapon...We already have too many firearms in our communities.” Christie said that while he absolutely supported the right to bear arms, he would prevent any “weakening” of existing gun laws.

And that's just the beginning of a pretty thorough history Nuzzi assembled of Christie's overwhelmingly anti-gun career. And sure, people's positions can and do change, sometimes dramatically--but there is very little evidence that there is any real change here.

As Herschel Smith notes in his The Captain's Journal blog, Christie's veto (which in New Jersey can come in the form of a "conditional" veto, which alters the original bill, rather than kills it outright), which adds oppressive disarmament language based on dubious potential "mental health" problems, has arguably made the bill far more draconian than it was:

Let that wash over you again. Chris Christie is proposing what might be the most draconian mental health measures in the nation. He wants to codify involuntary commitment of people who, in the estimation of someone approved by the state, deems that your mental health could deteriorate to the point of harm.

Furthermore, anyone who wants to carry a weapon must undergo forced mental health “treatment” to ascertain whether someone approved by the state deems you fit for your God-given duty of self defense. Perhaps the belief that weapons are the best defense against tyranny would be reason enough not only to prohibit ownership of weapons, but also to involuntarily commit you to an institution.

We have seen this kind of behavior from Christie before. Last year, when he vetoed a bill that would ban .50 caliber rifles (despite having himself called for precisely such a ban just weeks earlier), he also signed a bill that would effectively cancel the Second Amendment rights of "suspected terrorists," without a conviction, without an indictment, and without even an arrest or formal charges. As this column noted then, it's even worse than that: "Actually, one's listing on the 'terror watch list' is not even contingent on the government claiming one has broken any laws--simply the assertion that one is suspected of 'terrorist' aspirations is enough."

Also worth noting is the justification Christie gives for his magazine ban veto:

Asked by a reporter about the veto, he was unrepentant: “So are we saying then that the 10 children, on the clip that they advocate for, that their lives are less valuable? If you take the logical conclusion of their argument, you go to zero, because every life is valuable. And so why 10? Why not six? Why not two? Why not one? Why not zero? Why not just ban guns completely?”

A fair point, I suppose, but could it not be just as fairly applied to the "logic" of the 15-round magazine limit that he has supported (and indeed actively campaigned on) in the past? If a 10-round limit makes no sense, why would a 15-round limit? Or 20, or 30, or 100? Why not, indeed, dispense with any limit at all?

Christie is clearly banking on the hope that gun owners are dumb enough to be fooled by his nominally "pro-gun" actions of late, and it appears, inexplicably, that his bet might actually pay off. If gun owners allow him to win the Republican presidential primary, they will get what they deserve. Unforgivably, though, the rest of us will get what they deserve, as well.

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