Christie says US should enforce gun laws not pass new ones

Republican says Virginia shootings show need for more mental-health screenings

Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey and 2016 Republican presidential candidate. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey and 2016 Republican presidential candidate. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

 

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said America should enforce existing gun laws rather than pass new ones.

The Republican – who hoping to be the party’s nominee in next year’s US presidential election – said the fatal shootings of a Virginia television reporter and cameraman by a disgruntled former station employee during a live broadcast on Wednesday showed the need for more mental-health screenings.

“The deaths are an awful tragedy, but let’s focus on what the real problem is: We’re not enforcing the laws in this country,” the 52-year-old said on the “Fox and Friends” program. “We’ve got plenty of laws on the books that deal with gun violence; we just don’t enforce them.”

Mr Christie attacked president Barack Obama’s comment to WPVI – the ABC television station in Philadelphia – that the number of people who die from domestic gun crimes “dwarfs” deaths from international terrorist groups.

“I don’t know that anybody in America believes that they are more threatened by this than they feel threatened by ISIS or other terror groups around the world,” the governor said.

Walmart said Wednesday that it would no longer sell high-powered rifles in its US stores. The decision follows years of public pressure on the retailer to stop selling some of the most lethal weapons associated with many of the nation’s mass shootings.

The move predated the fatal shootings in Virginia on Wednesday, and authorities have said the gunman in that attack used a handgun, a type of weapon the company does not sell. Walmart, the nation’s largest seller of guns and ammunition, attributed its decision to lower consumer demand for such military-style rifles, not gun politics. It said that it was adding to its offerings of shotguns and other weapons used by hunters.

The decision put Walmart’s gun sale policies back in the spotlight as debates over gun control erupted again because of the Virginia shootings.

Gun control advocates viewed the company’s action as significant because similar types of weapons were used by gunmen in recent massacres, including an attack on a Colorado movie theater by a gunman who killed 12 people, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which 20 children and six adult staff members died.

After nine people were gunned down inside a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June, the chief executive of Walmart, Doug McMillon, indicated in an interview with CNN that he wanted to curb sales of such weapons. The company also had been facing criticism from politicians in urban areas, where it has been trying to expand, because of its gun sale policies.