New Jersey gun control bill passes Assembly, heads to governor's desk

Daniel Kelley
May 22, 2014
New Jersey Governor Christie looks on during an onstage interview at the 2014 Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit in Washington
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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) listens during an onstage interview at the 2014 Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit in Washington in this file photo taken May 14, 2014. The New Jersey state Assembly on Thursday sent Governor Chris Christie a gun control bill that would limit the capacity of gun ammunition magazines, but it was unclear whether the Republican governor would sign the measure into law. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS)

By Daniel Kelley

(Reuters) - The New Jersey state Assembly on Thursday sent Governor Chris Christie a gun control bill that would limit the capacity of gun ammunition magazines, but it was unclear whether the Republican governor would sign the measure into law.

Christie, widely perceived as a possible White House contender in 2016, has a mixed record on gun control and has given no indication of his plans for the measure.

The bill, approved in the Assembly by a 44-34 vote, would cut the maximum capacity of gun magazines to 10 from 15.

Gun control groups say it could save lives.

"No law abiding citizen needs 15-round magazines," said Bryan Miller, executive director of the anti-violence group Heeding God's Call.

"In mass shootings, the shooter is overwhelmed at the point he has to re-load," he said. "That provides the rest of us opportunities to stop the carnage."

Last year, Christie signed firearms bills barring sales to people on terrorism watch lists, and that increased penalties for gun crimes.

But he signed a bill preventing ownership records from being made public and vetoed a measures that banned .50-caliber rifles and required dealers to log ammunition sales.

Christie has not said publicly whether he supports the bill that just landed on his desk.

On Thursday, a gun rights group in New Hampshire, a state key in the presidential primary process, vowed to campaign against Christie if he signs it into law.

"If he doesn't veto the bill, that's big news because it will confirm our suspicion that Chris Christie is an enemy of the Second Amendment," said Sam Cohen, head of Pro-Gun New Hampshire.

Parents of the children killed in the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, visited the legislature to back the bill.

Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was among the victims, said when the gunman in Newtown stopped to reload his weapon, 11 children were able to run past him to safety.

"This isn't a partisan issue, it's a public safety issue," he said. "I know Chris Christie wants that too. He's a father as well."

Christie's presidential aspirations have been dampened by scandal. Members of his administration have been blamed for orchestrating traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge to retaliate against a local Democratic mayor who failed to endorse Christie for re-election.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Gunna Dickson)