(GREENWICH, Conn.) — When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie traveled to Connecticut to campaign with Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, the issue of gun control dominated the evening.
Outside one of the fundraisers Christie attended, he was greeted by about 170 protesters angry at his decision in July to veto legislation that would have banned magazines with more than ten rounds of ammunition. In this state still reeling from the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, protesters from Newtown, Connecticut held signs that said “Not One More” and “Be a Gun Sense Voter.”
At a diner he stopped at with Foley earlier he was asked by a voter from Newtown how he would limit gun violence in the nation without limiting access to high-capacity magazines, and Christie answered that he believes there is, “no evidence that high capacity magazines does anything to limit violence.”
“If you really want to limit mass violence in the country, you need to get at the mental health system in this country, which doesn’t deal with these folks,” Christie told the man named Richard Boritz. “Every one of these instances of mass killings, we had people with significant mental health issues. And that needs to be dealt with. It’s not the sexy part of it. It’s not the stuff that gets you big headlines when you are a politician. It’s the stuff that actually gets the job done. So I think we should stop doing the headline-grabbing stuff and start doing the actual work that makes a difference.”
Boritz attempted to continue the conversation, but Christie said he is “not engaged in a debate.” “You asked a question,” Christie told him. “That’s my answer. I am not going to debate you. If you run against me someday I will debate you all you like.”
Newtown families attempted to meet with Christie the day he vetoed the legislation and they have accused him of refusing to meet with them. On Monday, Christie told reporters that he met with the families a year ago, but he, “didn’t feel like it was necessary to meet with them again, especially after I had made the decision.”
“The fact is we have an honest disagreement,” Christie told reporters at the diner. “Now people on issues across this country can disagree, we disagree. I made the decision that I felt was best, they disagreed, that is certainly their prerogative to do so and to express themselves.”
He added that he has “nothing but sympathy” for the families, but he doesn’t believe the bill in New Jersey, which passed the Democratic controlled state legislature, was an, “effective way to deal with it so I vetoed it; it’s a difference of opinion, but it’s nothing personal.”
Foley chose not to reveal if he agreed with Christie’s veto.
Christie was also asked if he thought he could be a viable 2016 presidential candidate if he did not veto the bill and he answered, “I don’t make decisions on what bills to sign or veto based upon someone’s perception of viability.”
The protesters gathered at the bottom of a private road leading to the home of the fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association, where Christie serves as chairman. Katherine Morosky of Newtown, accompanied by her 7-year-old daughter Marie, held a politically-charged sign that read, “Stop Playing Politics, Children’s Lives are Not Trivial, Fewer Bullets Save Lives.”
It was a reference to what Christie said in his veto message, writing he could, “not support such a trivial approach to the sanctity of human life.”
Marie was not a student at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, but her mother claimed she was friends with five of the children killed, as well as some of the surviving children who were able to escape when Adam Lanza reloaded. Morosky said she was “extremely offended” by Christie’s veto, adding mental health is an issue, but there is still “easy access” for those with mental illness to ammunition making it possible to “kill 25 people in five minutes.”
“It’s such easy access to those weapons used for war and you can take out a lot more people out that way,” Morosky said of the higher-capacity magazines. “It makes a very big difference.”
Sandy Hook resident Cindy Carlson held a sign that read, “My Kids are Not Trivial,” and said those moments when a murderer reloads is crucial. “The difference is when a person with bad intentions must stop and reload it gives potential victims time to escape,” she said.
Christie and Foley appeared at the Glory Days Diner, appropriate for the devoted Bruce Springsteen fan. He was greeted there by a supportive crowd, with one woman shouting at the possible 2016 presidential candidate, “Hey good looking!” Another woman told him she once received a kiss from President George W. Bush so she needed one from him. He obliged saying to the cameras surrounding him, “You gotta do what you gotta do” with a smile.
Foley ran previously in 2010 losing to current Gov. Dannel Malloy by just over 6,000 votes. One of the fundraisers Monday night was for the RGA and the other was to raise money for the Connecticut GOP, that one was held at the home of former hedge fund manager Brian Olson.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Shelbie Harris, Idaho State Journal
Tom LoBianco, Deirdre Walsh and Tal Kopan, CNN
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Stephen Collinson, CNN