Columns

Democrats Exploit Orlando Massacre, Christie Charges

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) accused Democrats in Trenton of ignoring “radical Islamic terrorism” and using the tragedy of mass murder in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub to their advantage as they try to tighten the state’s gun laws.

“Radical Islamic terrorism is what brought that man into that club with violent intent — not the gun — his ideology is what brought him into that club,” Christie said. “His hatred for the LGBT community is rooted in his radical interpretation of Islam, yet you don’t hear anybody down the hall talking about that because it doesn’t suit their political purposes.”

The Democrat-controlled State Assembly approved a resolution in June to block a Christie administration attempt to make it easier for New Jersey residents to obtain a permit to carry a handgun.

Their vote came five days after Omar Mateen killed 49 people.

While Democrats might be using the Orlando massacre to bolster their case to keep the nation’s third-toughest gun laws intact, Christie used the example of a woman murdered by her ex-boyfriend to make his argument that it should be easier to carry a handgun in New Jersey.

Carol Bowne was stabbed to death in her front yard by her ex-boyfriend. Bowne had a restraining order against him, but what she really needed was a gun to protect herself.

Bowne must have known her life was in danger. But did her fears meet the regulatory benchmark needed to gain access to carry a weapon?

Being a law-abiding citizen, she applied for a firearms permit in April 2015. Less than two months later, and with her application delayed beyond the 30-day statutory deadline for its processing, her ex caught up with her, and Bowne was murdered.

Christie set up a Firearm Purchase and Permitting Study Commission to find out what slowed down Bowne’s application and whether her case was an anomaly in an otherwise efficient system.

The Study Commission discovered “multiple complaints” from people who said their applications had been unnecessarily delayed, and that the state’s gun laws were not being enforced uniformly across New Jersey.

“The terrible tragedy was a jarring example of a permitting system that had failed and needed to be reexamined and fixed. Likewise, I have seen far too many instances in my time as governor of otherwise lawful gun owners facing severe criminal penalties when they have no intent to violate the law in the routine transport of their lawfully owned firearms,” said Christie.

Christie ordered the attorney general’s office and the superintendent of state police to look for new technology that would streamline the permit application process.

But this is what fired up Democrats’ opposition: Christie added the phrase “serious threats” to the circumstances that are used to demonstrate whether a person should be allowed to carry a handgun.

Now, a person — like the late Carol Bowne, for instance— would not have to list specific threats that have been made against her. She only has to describe “generalized fears or concerns.”

The amendment to the Handgun Carry Permit rules also says a handgun can be carried if there is “a special danger” to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by other “reasonable means” rather than “any” means.

Majority State Assembly Democrats argue Christie’s changes violate the “legislative intent” of New Jersey’s history of gun laws, and voted 46-29 to approve a resolution to that effect on June 17.

The state Senate approved the same resolution in May, by a 22-17 vote.

“Watering down our existing conceal carry laws does not keep our communities safer. The proposed regulation to allow a “serious threat” to be a justifiable need to receive a carry permit is reckless,” Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D) said in a statement on his Facebook page.

The Christie administration has 30 days to change or withdraw the new regulations.

Think Gov. Christie’s going to back down from this fight?

“They are wrong, and we’ll fight them,” Christie said.

After that 30 days is up, the Legislature has another 20 days to vote on a resolution to officially block Christie’s handgun regulations.

But that gun-control debate is only one of three in Trenton.

NJ Advance Media has reported Democrats will reintroduce legislation that would reduce the maximum number of rounds legally allowed in a gun’s magazine from 15 to 10.

Democratic leaders have also said they are working to gather enough votes to override Christie’s veto of legislation that would have forced people convicted of domestic violence to surrender their guns.

Christie argued the legislation to set up a formal process to take away those guns had to be vetoed because it was such a shift in existing law.

Considering Gov. Christie’s argument to make it easier to carry a handgun was based on the death of a domestic crime victim, New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D) thinks Christie’s not telling the whole truth about his motivation.

“I believe it was vetoed by the governor because he was then a presidential candidate,” Weinberg told reporters, “and had promised people in New Hampshire that he would never sign another gun bill.”