New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has a track record of provoking the base of his own party, which is made up of conservatives. On everything from his closeness to President Barack Obama after last year’s Hurricane Sandy disaster to his recent banning of homosexual conversion therapy in kids, Christie has behaved in ways that have outraged many conservatives. This is to his detriment since, if he does decide to run for president in 2016, he will need the conservative base of the GOP to win the presidency. As Mitt Romney found out last year, anger the conservative base and lose the federal election.
While there is no definite confirmation that Christie is trying to win back the conservative base that he so dearly needs to win if he does decide to run, he at least seems to be making something of an overture to many conservatives that he has offended in the past due to his anti-conservative obsession with gun control. Last week, the governor vetoed a portion of his very own gun-control agenda by rejecting three of his legislature’s (controlled by the Democrats) extremist anti-gun bills.
Christie’s horrible record on guns—at least from the conservative perspective of gun rights—became undeniably apparent in the aftermath of last year’s Newton, Connecticut, school shooting. In the race to overreact and satisfy the calls of zealous gun-control activists, the New Jersey governor established the SAFE Task Force. On top of that, he also pushed a legislative plan that, in the governor’s own words, would expand the state’s already strict gun-control measures. This was overkill when viewed in the context of New Jersey already having the country’s 2nd-toughest firearms laws, according to the Brady Campaign.
The governor, utilizing his conditional veto powers, rewrote the most aggressively anti-gun bills that came out of the Democrat legislature. The most controversial one that he rejected was one that would have identified firearm owners by using a so-called “smart card,” as with a driver’s license, for instance. Another of the extremist bills that he vetoed included a bill to outlaw .50-caliber firearms, firearms that are never used for criminal activity, according to the Washington Times. Ironically, Christie supported such a ban earlier in the year.
Speculation is rife about the governor’s sudden and abrupt change of heart on the gun-control issue. Many political watchers are attributing it to political posturing that is meant to curry favor with gun owners, which form part of the conservative base of the GOP, a base he’ll need in the GOP primaries if he runs in 2016.
Gun control is still a hot-button issue in the country, if on a smaller scale than the national level. While gun control has largely petered out in Obama’s 2nd-term agenda, which has been plagued by numerous scandals, it is still being kept alive by ideological, anti-gun activist groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns.