Chris Christie: New Jersey's low murder rates and tough gun laws are just a coincidence
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on ABC's This Week (ABC/Screenshot)

Attempting to keep his 2016 presidential hopes alive, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) refused to wade into the problem of easy access to guns, saying tough gun laws in his state haven't had a major impact on its low murder rate.

Asked by This Week host George Stephanopolous to talk about the gun debate in the wake of the Oregon shooting that claimed nine lives, Christie instead wanted to talk about mental health issues.

"You just heard Donald Trump say, you know, sometimes people fall through the cracks. And he also questioned whether tough gun laws make a difference," Stephanopolous said. "But look at your state. It has some of the toughest gun laws and one of the lowest murder rates. Isn't there a correlation?"

Christie immediately dodged the question, saying mental health issues are a greater concern.

"I don't -- George, I don't think there is. But I'll tell you this, I'm very concerned about the mental health side of this and I put forward a proposal to the legislature last year and then again just about seven or eight weeks ago in response to a bill they sent saying, let's do some tough things on mental health," Christie replied. "Let's make involuntary commitment of people who speak violently easier for doctors."

Christie continued on, dismissing tough gun laws by invoking the murder rates in Chicago which also has restrictive gun laws.

"In many of the places around this country where they have the toughest gun laws, they have the highest violent crime rates. And we focus on a tragedy like this. It's an awful tragedy. It's terrible. But it is the exception to violence in America," Christie explained. "Violence in America -- that's happened on our streets in our cities, like Chicago, up 19 percent, the murder rate. New York, up 11 percent. And you have some of the most aggressive gun laws in cities like that."

Not noted by Christie is a 2013 report released by the Chicago Police Department showing that half the guns recovered in crimes come from out of state. Additionally, a study conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab showed a quarter of the firearms seized by the Chicago Police Department over a five year period were bought just outside of Cook County suburbs, with one Illinois gun store, Chuck’s Gun Shop in Riverdale, the seller of over 1,300 confiscated guns in a five year period.

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