New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is currently leading some 2016 GOP polls, signed 10 gun bills into law on Thursday. The possible presidential candidate signed only the least controversial among them, while leaving the contentious bills on his desk.
One of the new laws will disqualify any person on the federal terrorist watch list from obtaining firearms identification cards or permits to purchase handguns.
“To the extent that this bill will keep guns out of the hands of known terrorists, or those who have taken active steps to support terrorist activities, my signature on this bill represents my commitment to keeping the citizens of New Jersey safe,” Christie said in a signing statement. “Our diligence against terrorism must never fade.”
Civil liberties advocates have criticized the watch list for its secrecy. The list is not public, nor can one petition to have his name removed from it. There were about 420,000 names on the watch list as of 2011. It has swollen to nearly 900,000 as of this year.
Other new laws strengthen penalties for trafficking firearms and exempt firearm licenses from public records requests.
“Of the ten bills signed today, we supported two, opposed two, and were neutral on the remaining six,” Scott Bach, executive director of the New Jersey Association of Rifle and Pistol Clubs, told the Hunterdon County Democrat.
It’s those the governor left on his desk that worry Bach the most, however.
One bill passed by the state Senate, S.2737, would institute background checks for all private gun sales and require all prospective gun owners to attend a gun safety training class.
Another would ban a model of .50 caliber rifle, the most powerful rifle available to civilians.
“The Sweeney ‘kitchen sink’ bill that attacks gun rights and does nothing to prevent crime; a ban on $10,000 rifles used by wealthy hobbyists; and a bill that would mandate that the State Police disclose law enforcement data in violation of federal law,” he said.
The governor said in July that The Garden State has enough gun laws and needs to enforce the ones already on the books. It’s unclear what Christie will do about the remaining bills as he faces re-election in November and a possible presidential run in 2016.