New at NJ Spotlight: Democratic Gun-Reform Package No Sure Shot

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Democratic Gun-Reform Package No Sure Shot

Christie’s political ambitions could mean veto if governor wants to appeal to national Republican primary voters

Democrats say the multibill gun-reform package they are poised to send to the governor’s desk can be a model for other states, but there are no guarantees that it will become law.

That’s because it remains unclear whether Gov. Chris Christie’s potential national ambitions might cause him to take a more conservative stance on gun laws than he has in the past. If he does, it could result in him vetoing or conditionally vetoing the legislation.

Christie, a former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, has endorsed an assault-weapons ban in previous political races and is on record supporting a state one-gun-per-month limit.

Academics who study New Jersey politics said the gun issue has a low profile and is unlikely to affect statewide races. If the governor has national aspirations, however, his calculations are likely to include Republican primary voters, who are far more conservative than those in New Jersey.

At the same time, the Democrats are not completely in sync on the legislation. Assembly leaders are pressing to reduce the maximum size of ammunition clips from 15 to 10 rounds. That limit has the backing of likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono and has been introduced in the upper house by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex). It is opposed by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who has refused to post the legislation or a vote.

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