POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Christie Sets Up Task Force To Investigate Gun Control, Violence and Mental Illness

By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
NJ Today

As a father, Gov. Chris Christie said, he felt the horror of the Newtown shooting.

“Those 20 children met a death that none of us would ever wish on any person in our society, let alone 6- and 7-year-old children,” he said.

As a governmental leader, he announced today the New Jersey Safe Task Force. It will have 60 days to make recommendations and will be co-chaired by two former attorneys general — Peter Verniero and John Degnan.

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Christie said violence in society requires a broad inquiry.

“If we focus just on calling this gun control, in my view we’re missing out on the bigger story,” Christie said.

The task force is to focus on five topics — gun control, addiction, mental illness, the level of violence currently in society and school safety.

“I’ve told them there are predetermined conclusions. I will be willing to consider supporting any of the recommendations they come back with in any of the categories I mentioned,” he said.

And Christie declined to criticize other groups and other leaders who have weighed in on the topic.

“This is not time for grandstanding and it is not time for politics. This is the time for an honest conversation on how we realistically deal with what is a very complex issue,” Christie said.

His only criticism was of the NRA ad that argued President Obama’s children have armed guards, why shouldn’t all children?

“Reprehensible,” he said. “Because I’m a father who’s a public figure who has four children.”

After half an hour violence, Christie was asked about today’s jobs report.

Nearly 31,000 new private sector jobs were created in New Jersey in December, the highest monthly gain ever. Democrats nonetheless have been throwing wet blankets on the news.

“And I read Sen. Sweeney’s comments about it today and his comments are asinine. He says this is more evidence of the failed Christie economic policies. Really? Ask the 30,000 people who are back to work whether they think that’s a failed policy or not,” Christie said.

“We have to remember that we’re not sure whether that’s a statistical anomaly. We had lots of people working in New Jersey in December because they were cleaning up after a very big hurricane and continue to do so,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski. “Is that a sustainable number or is that going to go back down once the hurricane relief effort is concluded? We don’t know.”

Today we got the governor’s official response to the massacre at the Newtown elementary school, an approach he called more deliberative than what President Obama and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have done but without any criticism of either of them.