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Christie veto disappoints Sandy Hook victims’ parents

A group of parents from Newtown, Connecticut whose children were killed in a 2012 school shooting delivered 55,000 petitions to the State House in Trenton Wednesday, asking Gov. Chris Christie to sign legislation limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. But the governor vetoed the measure minutes after the petitions were handed over.

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In a statement issued along with his veto, Christie said limiting the number of bullets in guns will not end mass shootings. That left those Sandy Hook Elementary School parents disappointed.

“The fact is that mass shootings happen,” said Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was among those shot and killed. “It can happen anywhere, anytime, and it can happen to you.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addressing a town hall meeting Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Haddon Heights, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Barden said the shooter at Sandy Hook had ammunition magazines of 30 rounds each, to quickly kill as many people as possible, and when he paused to reload his weapon, 11 children escaped to safety.

“A 10-round magazine would have forced the shooter to pause that much more often,” Barden said, “each time an opportunity to save lives or stop the shooter.”

He then reminded everyone we’ve seen a pattern emerge over the years.

“The shooter in Tucson, Arizona was stopped when he paused to reload; the shooter in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado was apprehended when his 100-round drum jammed,” Barden said. “Every time a shooter stops to reload is a chance to save lives.”

Sandy Hook Elementary School
Sandy Hook Elementary School (Connecticut State Police via Getty Images)

Nicola Bocour, project director of Ceasefire New Jersey, said Garden State residents were heartbroken by the tragic shooting in Newtown.

“We must listen to the voices of the parents who have come to New Jersey to share their stories,” she said. “We must do everything that we can do to protect the children and families in New Jersey and prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.”

She also said for decades New Jersey residents have sought to be at the forefront of gun safety, and New Jersey has consistently been a leader on this issue.

“Common sense laws do save lives,” she said, “and this is as common sense as it gets.”

After the veto, Assemblyman and bill sponsor Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees) sent the following statement via email:

The governor’s action today can best be described with the words used in his own veto statement, ‘Difficult choices are brushed aside…uncomfortable topics are left unexplored.’ I would imagine this is a very uncomfortable topic to have with conservative voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.

At the end of the day, this was a cowardly decision that lacks leadership. In fact, this is political expediency at its worst, considering the governor is headed out to campaign in Iowa in just a few weeks.

The parents who had their lives shattered at Sandy Hook have told us that the most significant thing we can do to save lives is lower the ammunition capacity. If the Sandy Hook shooter had been forced to stop and reload more often, it might have made the difference between whether their child is alive or not today. That alone is reason enough for the governor to sign this bill.

There is no arguing that mental health services are a vital component of this equation. That’s why it’s surprising that the Christie administration has dragged its feet for five years in implementing our involuntary outpatient commitment law. However, the governor can’t expect to deal with gun violence by ignoring the ‘gun’ component because it’s convenient.”

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