Many 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls are set to address tens of thousands of Second Amendment rights advocates this weekend at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention.
Notably, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky will be missing from this event – and not necessarily because they don’t want to rub elbows with a key conservative voting bloc.
NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker told msnbc on Wednesday that Christie and Paul were not invited to the event in Nashville, Tenn. “Our event has grown in popularity over the years. Unfortunately, we have a strict time constraint, so we can’t accommodate everyone,” she said.
The rest of the emerging GOP field, however, will be there. According to Baker, that includes former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump. The list of attendees was first reported by The Tennessean newspaper.
Christie’s office did not return a request for comment about not being invited. Paul spokeswoman Eleanor May said the senator would be busy on his multi-state presidential announcement tour anyway.
While Paul opposes gun control legislation and has been an outspoken on the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Christie received a “C” rating by the NRA when he ran for re-election back in 2013.
Christie vetoed a gun control bill last July that would have banned magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition. At the time, Christie said the restriction on number of bullets was “trivial” and argued such a limit would not prevent future mass shootings. Before the veto, parents of children who died in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut went to Trenton, New Jersey, to deliver a petition with more than 55,000 signatures and requested a meeting with Christie. They were told the governor was unavailable.
Some speculated at the time that the veto was done with an eye toward 2016. GOP primary voters are typically unwavering in their support of gun rights, and Christie, who is considered one of the more moderate GOP hopefuls, has been skewered by the right for his stance on guns in the past.
New Jersey actually has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the state received an A- in its gun law score card.