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Christie vetoes 'trivial' gun control bill, angers Sandy Hook parents

The New Jersey governor refused to reduce the legal limit of ammunition magazines, just hours after Newtown families delivered a petition to his office.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering at a town hall meeting Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Haddon Heights, N.J.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses a gathering at a town hall meeting Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Haddon Heights, N.J.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a gun control bill on Wednesday that would have banned magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate called the restriction of the number of bullets "trivial," and denied such a limit could prevent future mass shootings.

"Mass violence will not end by changing the number of bullets loaded into a gun," Christie said in his veto message. "I will not support such a trivial approach to the sanctity of human life, because this is not governing." He returned the measure to the state legislature with a reform plan that deals with mental health issues, according to his office.

The state currently limits magazine capacity to 15 rounds of ammunition. The measure would have reduced the legal allowance from 15 to 10.

High-capacity magazines are banned in eight states and the District of Columbia. Magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition are generally considered “large capacity”; some magazines can hold up to 100 rounds. Large-capacity magazines are used in half of mass shootings in the United States, according to a review by Mother Jones that analyzed 62 such incidents during a 30-year span.

Hours before Christie's decision, several families from Newtown, Conn., personally delivered a petition to Christie to encourage him to reduce the legal limit of magazines. More than 55,000 individuals supported their request. The governor wasn't available to meet with the parents who lost children in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"His refusal to meet with us is a cowardly political move, but his statement accusing us of 'grandstanding' and furthering 'empty rhetoric' is a blow to the memories of our children," parents Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden, who both lost their first-grade sons in the shooting, jointly said in a statement on Wednesday. They asked that the leader explain his veto "by meeting with us and telling us to our faces that it wouldn't have protected our own children and won't save the lives of New Jersey’s children.  We doubt he has the courage to face us."

Related: Court upholds constitutionality of Conn. gun control law

Ahead of his re-election campaign last year, Christie launched a state-based task force to request individuals deliver recommendations to reduce gun violence. He later said the November 2013 mall shooting in his state demonstrated the need for mental health legislation.

New Jersey ranked second with an "A-" grade, behind California, in strengthening gun control during 2013, according to information compiled last year by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, msnbc previously reported. New Jersey was also listed as one of the top 10 states with the lowest gun-death rate.

Christie governs a largely Democratic state, where the "Bridgegate" lane closure scandal lingers. Many of his fellow Republicans remain angry over his decision to embrace President Barack Obama after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Garden State, and view him as too moderate on gun control issues. Christie last year passed gun bills ranging from measures aimed at stiffening penalties for the unlawful possession to requiring the state to submit mental health records to the federal government.