A bill that bans magazines over 10 rounds and classifies .22-caliber tube-fed youth rifles as “assault firearms” could hit the governor’s desk as soon as March 27, according to the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, which is the state’s affiliate for the National Rifle Association (NRA).
“They want to put Gov. Christie in a corner if he runs for president and keep the negative headlines coming,” Mr. Bach told me Tuesday. “Democrats are intent on delivering this legislation to the governor’s desk, but New Jersey gun owners are tenacious and resisting with everything they’ve got.”
The General Assembly, the lower house, is expected to vote on the bill on Thursday. A committee had one public hearing March 13, but disregarded the protests from gun owners in passing the bill along party lines.
A Senate committee is scheduled to hold its one public hearing on Monday. It is expected to pass and then could be on the Senate floor by March 27. The state’s Legislature typically goes on a “budget recess” in April.
The question all gun owners in the Garden State are asking is whether Mr. Christie will sign the bill into law or veto the most extremist gun-control measures, as he did last summer.
“We don’t know,” Mr. Bach, the NRA affiliate’s spokesman conceded. “Last year’s vetoes show that he knows the difference between feel-good proposals that do nothing and laws that actually get the bad guys, so we are hopeful that he will continue to make that distinction.”
But the gun ban is not just about New Jersey.
Mr. Christie is seen as a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. He has a big hurdle to climb to win over conservatives in the party, many of whom are gun owners.
So as soon as next week, Mr. Christie may be facing a decision between showing Americans whether he will defend the Second Amendment or cower to emotional pleas from the radicals running New Jersey. The voters are watching.
Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).