By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
Two people who each lost a child in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School told us today they were in the State House yesterday dropping off 55,000 petitions and trying to see the governor.
Soon after they left, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the bill they’ve been pushing for a year.
They think the timing was deliberate.
“And it was within about 10 minutes of us leaving that he made the statement, so, no, I don’t think it was a coincidence at all,” said Nicole Hockley.
Manny Cerca has been selling guns for 35 years.
His shop, Bullet Hole, is in Belleville and caters to law enforcement.
The bill Christie vetoed would have reduced firearm magazine capacity from 15 rounds of ammunition to 10.
The Sandy Hook parents called the veto a “crushing blow.”
“How long does it take to take this out and put the next one in? A split second, so magazine capacity is a ridiculous thing and the governor used a lot of common sense in vetoing it,” Cerca said.
Advocates for a 10-round magazine limit say if a madman has to reload, it can save a few lives. Here at Bullet Hole, the owner disputes that.
“When you push this magazine release, take the magazine out, it takes a split second to put another one back in again. It’s over,” said Cerca.
“The facts are the facts. It’s not an argument or opinion. We can cite several instances of mass shootings, when where the shooter stopped to reload, whether it’s a second or two seconds or half a second, it’s enough time for somebody to get out of the line of sight. Lives are saved when the shooter reloads every time,” said Mark Barden.
“If a magazine can be reloaded that quickly, then, what’s the problem with limiting it to 10 bullets?” asked Hockley.
In his veto message, the governor called the magazine limit “reform in name only.”
He rewrote the bill to put far more emphasis on young men with severe mental problems, how to get them involuntarily committed and away from guns.
“We fully support what he’s saying in terms of mental health reform. We advocate for that as well. This isn’t an either/or issue. It’s a combination of both that’s required,” Hockley said.
The gun shop owner calls mass shootings mainly a medical and parental problem.
Christie has a mixed record on gun control, but Democrats smell politics in this latest veto.
Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald put out a statement calling it “a cowardly decision that lacks leadership. I would imagine this is a very uncomfortable topic to have with conservative voters in Iowa and New Hampshire,” it said.
The bill had passed both houses. No word on whether supporters will try again.