Published On: Thu, Aug 27th, 2015

Chris Christie on Virginia shooting, ‘We don’t need new laws’ for gun control

After a gunman opened fire and killed two people during a live television interview in Roanoke, Virginia on Wednesday, several politicians renewed calls for stricter gun control legislation. But Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is advocating against increasing gun laws, saying the country should focus instead on mental health issues.

“The fact is that we need to have more information about people’s mental health background,” Christie said in an interview with CBS This Morning early Thursday. “But we don’t need new laws in this country to be able to do that. We have laws that exist now. We just need to enforce the ones we do.”

Christie’s critics are quick to point to several news laws in New Jersey that restrict firearms during his tenure. Christie passed legislation that included increasing penalties for unlawful possession, banning anyone on the terrorism watch list from buying a gun, and requiring the state to submit mental health data to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Christie credited his success to enforcement and community policing initiatives, not the new gun laws.

“All you hear now is let’s have new laws, new laws, when we don’t enforce the laws we have,” Christie said. “That’s for members of Congress to feel useful. Quite frankly, that’s not what we need to do.”

The most recent polls have Christie back in the pack at 4% but the governor is not bothered: “These polls don’t mean anything right now,” he said. “What matters is what matters to the American people.”

The full transcript is below.

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NORAH O’DONNELL: New Jersey has one of the lowest rates of gun deaths in the country. Is that because of some of the gun control laws in your state?

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: No, that’s because they have a governor who enforces the law and also supports community policing. And you look at crime exploding all over the country, but in Camden, New Jersey, which used to be the most dangerous city in America, we fired the entire police force three years ago, brought in a new police force that’s doing community policing. The murder rate in Camden the last three years is down 61 percent. Because people know two things: that as governor, I’ll do anything I have to do to protect the lives of the people of New Jersey and fight against these criminals, and second that we’re doing things like community policing so that the community and the police force are working together to protect their neighborhoods. That’s the kind of leadership we need in the country, and we don’t have it right now.

O’DONNELL: But in the case of this shooter, he didn’t set off any trip wires. He did have this history of complaints against him, of threatening people, but he legally purchased a gun. If you’re president, how do you stop something like that from happening?

CHRISTIE: First off, we should do more about mental health in this country. The fact is that we need to have more information about people’s mental health background. But we don’t need new laws in this country to be able to do that–we have laws that exist now. We just need to enforce the ones that we do.

O’DONNELL: So you’re saying he should have been profiled–his mental health history?

CHRISTIE: No, what I’m saying–I don’t know the particulars about him, yet, nor does anybody else. What I’m saying in general, the problem I see as the governor is we’re not focusing enough on mental health. All you’re hearing is, “Let’s have new laws,” when we don’t enforce the laws we have. You know, when I was U.S. Attorney in New Jersey for seven years, we enforced the gun laws against felons who held guns. They’re the ones who are committing most of the violent crime in this country, and yet we want to be calling for more laws. That’s for member of Congress to feel useful. Quite frankly, that’s not what we need to do.

ANTHONY MASON: Governor, you’ve seen the new Quinnipiac poll, I’m sure. It says you have 4 percent support among Republicans. What’s going to keep you in this race at that level?

CHRISTIE: The people of the country–that’s what’s going to keep me in the race. And to continue to care about the issues that bother them. This country is incredibly frustrated. Incredibly frustrated now with a government that’s been completely inept and that has broken its promises to them. I’m going to continue to speak to that because in New Jersey I dealt with exactly the same thing. I came into a government that had broken its promises and broken its word, and, you know, we’re going to get out there and work really hard, and we’re going to make this happen.

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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