Hit with a snub from the National Rifle Association and planning to run for the White House in 2016 against a bevy of GOP candidates who strongly support the Second Amendment, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie now says he favors finding "the right balance" between gun control and gun owners' rights.
Speaking at Chez Vachon, a Manchester, New Hampshire, restaurant, Christie said: "We've got to make sure we have public safety, but on the other hand we have to protect people's rights both as sportsmen and hunters and for self-protection too, find the right balance," Politico
The National Rifle Association (NRA), which has given Christie a "C" rating in protecting the rights of gun owners, pointedly did not invite him to address their annual convention in Nashville, while other leading GOP candidates invited to speak, like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, all have received "A+" NRA ratings, New Jersey.com said.
Christie's "C" rating is "like an 'F' to most Republicans," Doug Brinkley, Rice University presidential historian, told New Jersey.com
"When you're in a field this crowded, and have less than an 'A' rating from the NRA, the only thing you can do on the gun issue is 'get religion' on it," GOP strategist Steve Schmidt told New Jersey.com. "Should Christie be the GOP nominee, he will have gotten on the right side of the gun issue."
New Jersey is considered to be the third-worst state for gun owners, according to Guns & Ammo magazine
, requiring an "urgent need" for a "may issue" carry permit to be granted, among other tough restrictions.
Christie has said that he wants to loosen the Garden State's tough gun laws, telling a town meeting, "send me a Republican legislature. And with a Republican legislature you'll have a governor who will respect, appropriately, the rights of law-abiding citizens to be able to protect ourselves," The Wall Street Journal
Noting that Christie has said he favors "strictly enforcing" New Jersey's tough gun laws, while vetoing some bills which provide even tougher restrictions, the Journal said, "Second Amendment rights could be an issue that confronts Mr. Christie if he runs for president. Other potential Republican candidates, such as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, have taken strong stances against gun control laws."
Christie, who says he will make a decision on whether to run for the White House within the next three months, so far is running well back in the pack. Real Clear Politics' roundup
of polls places him at a 5.5 percent chance of winning the GOP nomination, with Bush at 16.5 percent, Walker at 15.3 percent and Cruz at 10.5 percent, leaving Christie in eighth place.
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