New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) defended his decision not to meet with the families of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School before vetoing gun control legislation last week, saying during a press conference Monday that there was nothing they could have said to change his mind.
Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden, two parents whose children were killed at Sandy Hook in 2012, delivered a petition with over 55,000 signatures in support of a bill that would have banned a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The parents requested a meeting with Christie to discuss the issue but were told that Christie was unavailable, according to The Star-Ledger.
An hour later, the governor sent the bill back to the legislature but stripped the magazine requirement.
In his first public statement since vetoing the legislation last week, Christie said that such a meeting would have been useless because he had already made up his mind on the issue, according to The Star-Ledger.
“I already signed it,” Christie said at a press conference Monday. “It would have been really hypocritical for me to sit down and act like I was listening to their arguments, again, when in fact I already signed the conditional veto.”
After he vetoed the legislation last week, Christie called it “reform in name only,” and said it was part of “an attempt to drive an emotional, political agenda.” In place of the reduced magazine limit, Christie proposed a host of measures to improve New Jersey’s mental health system.
“Are we saying then that the 10 children on the clip that they advocate for, that their lives are less valuable?” Christie said Monday. “If you take the logical conclusion of their argument, you go to zero, because every life is valuable.”
In a statement after Christie sent the bill back to the legislature, Hockley and Barden said that Christie’s refusal to meet with them was a “cowardly political move.”
“We know that smaller magazines would have saved more lives at Sandy Hook Elementary, possibly even the lives of our own children,” they said. "If Governor Christie wishes to dodge a true veto of this bill, then we respectfully ask that he does that by meeting with us and telling us to our faces that it wouldn't have protected our own children and won't save the lives of New Jersey children. We doubt he has the courage to face us."