In a move swiftly criticized as a concession to gun advocates, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) issued a veto Friday night against two gun safety measures, including a ban on .50-caliber long-range rifles, a measure he initially supported.
The Washington Post reported that Christie announced the veto after 6 p.m. Friday night in a message to the state General Assembly, saying that the requirement existing .50-caliber owners to give up their weapons went too far.
The bill, Christie wrote, will "serve only to confuse law-abiding gun owners with the threat of imprisonment for lawful recreation. I cannot approve of that result."
The Associated Press reported that Christie also gutted a bill that called for a cross-referencing of weapons purchase and law enforcement records, arguing that the technology necessary to enforce it was not in place.
Christie had pushed for more weapons legislation in the wake of the December 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. But gun advocacy groups had cautioned Christie against signing the ban on .50-caliber rifles into effect, telling Reuters they considered it an "acid test" for his possible aspirations toward running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. State Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D) described the late veto in a statement as a signal Christie listened to that warning.
"Banning these battlefield-style weapons was designed to keep these highly destructive firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminals and terrorists," Oliver's statement read. "Instead, the governor has shunned this notion and bowed to the pressure of right wing conservatives."
[h/t Adam Weinstein]
[Image via CBS News]