‘Bad things happen’ — Christie pushes back on gun control after Las Vegas massacre
EWING — Gov. Chris Christie shrugged off renewed calls for stricter gun control laws following the largest mass shooting in American history by saying that no law will be able to stop every atrocity.
“Sometimes — I know this is hard — but sometime we just don’t have the answers to every question,” Christie said.
"Sometimes bad things happen and sometimes there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Sometimes the politicians try to give the illusion to people that … they have the solution to every vexing issue and sometimes you just don’t."
Christie offered his thoughts during his monthly appearance on New Jersey 101.5's "Ask the Governor" a day after a gunman killed at least 59 people and injured more than 551 others at an outdoor country music concert Sunday in Las Vegas.
Earlier in the day, Democratic members of Congress from New Jersey reacted to the massacre by calling for tougher gun control.
In a statement issued Monday morning as the death toll and casualty count continued to rise, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J. 12th District, wrote of the "grief and despair" and quickly turned to a discussion on policy.
"There are no words for this intentional act of evil and as the investigation continues to unfold I must express my desperation for Congress to take on gun safety reform," Watson Coleman said.
She added on Twitter: "Members of Congress, an elementary school, daily killings on the street of Trenton, now a concert in Las Vegas. What will it take?" and "I am desperate for Congress to take on gun safety reform. What will it take?"
Coleman has been a long-time advocate for tougher gun regulations and sat on the floor of the House in response to her vote against H.R. 5471 in June 2016 after the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that killed 50. She called it an "empty gesture" that was a repackaging of three previous bills.
"It ignores threats from homegrown, domestic terrorists like the shooter who killed nine people at Mother Emanuel in Charleston, or the anti-abortion extremist who killed three in Colorado," she said in a statement in June.
Stephen Paddock, 64, is accused of shooting at a country music festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel and Casino on Sunday night. Police have not said how Paddock obtained the 10 guns found in the room when SWAT teams stormed in.
U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J. 1st District, on Twitter also spelled out several steps he believes could be implemented quickly, including "common sense background checks" and a ban on assault rifles.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said Republicans postponed a hearing Monday on making gun silencers easier to get.
"I have worked for years to ban high-capacity gun clips and renew the assault weapons ban, yet time and time again Republicans and the gun industry block us. We must mobilize and do something to prevent more tragedies," the senior senator from New Jersey said on Twitter.
Second Amendment and gun rights advocates, including the influential National Rifle Association, have long pushed back against further restrictions on gun sales and ownership in the wake of multiple mass shootings in recent years.
A Republican, Christie has resisted efforts to strengthen the state's already tough regulations.
"I just don't believe that a whole bunch of new gun laws is going to change that reality. I just don't," Christie said Monday evening.
In response to "Ask the Governor" host Eric Scott's question about whether the state should ban bump stocks, which can convert semiautomatic rifles into machine-gun-like weapons like the one believed to have used in Las Vegas, Christie said laws won't stop a madman.
"If you truly think that the guy who broke through a window of a hotel with — now they’re saying 18 guns in his room — do you think he would say, ‘Maybe I’m not going to kill these people because I might get arrested for buying a bump stock off the internet’? He’s going to get that stuff one way or the other."
David Rosenthal, vice president for the Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners, said there is more to consider than just gun control.
"What a madman does is basically a mental heath issue. He could have used a truck or gasoline. We have to stop blaming the object and focus on the cause. We need to remove the stigma of mental heath. We're never going to get rid of all the guns," Rosenthal said.
He also extended his condolences to those affected by the shooting. "We mourn for the dead and we pray for the wounded and their families."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the day after the deadly shooting is not the time to renew a debate over gun control.
Sanders said there is a "time and place" for a debate but that is "not the place we're in at this moment."
She said President Donald Trump was focused on the victims and stressed that it was a "time to unite the country."
Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, called for stricter gun control laws after several mass shootings throughout his presidency. Following Obama's speech calling for such regulations after the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school massacre in 2012, Trump said on Twitter that "President Obama spoke for me and every American." Before he ran for office, Trump had voiced support for more gun laws.
Trump did not mention firearms during his remarks on Monday.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com
Sergio Bichao contributed to this report.