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Christie slams NRA, calls ad of Obama's daughters 'reprehensible'

New Jersey's Republican Gov.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a news conference in Trenton, N.J. on Dec. 7, 2012. (Photo by Mel Evans/AP)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a news conference in Trenton, N.J. on Dec. 7, 2012.

New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday he's not afraid of the NRA and called the organization's latest web ad referencing President Obama's daughters "awful" and "reprehensible."

"I think it's awful to bring public figures' children into the debate because they don't deserve to be there," the governor said at a news conference in Trenton where he announced the formation of a task force to come up with recommendations to reduce violence in his state. "It makes you cringe. Get to the real issues, don't be dragging people's children into it."

Christie said the ad was off-base and belittled the NRA, saying the ad made it "less of a valid source of information."

Earlier, Christie was asked if he was concerned that his task force would incur the wrath of the powerful gun lobby.

"I'm not worried about anybody on any side of this argument," Christie said. "I'm not worried about the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence either. I'm willing to listen to all of them. None of them have all the answers, even if they think they do," he added. "I'm fine, I'll be OK, I'm a big boy."

The governor was asked repeatedly whether he supported or opposed a federal assault weapons ban, but pointedly refused to answer, citing his inability to influence the debate in Washington.

"I have opinions on lots of things, but it doesn't mean I have to give them all the time," he told one reporter.

New Jersey--which prohibits the sale of assault weapons--has the nation's second toughest gun laws behind California, Christie noted at the beginning of his news conference.

"I have always said I support the laws that we have on the books today, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more commonsense steps we can take to reduce violence," he said in his opening remarks.

The New Jersey governor--who is up for re-election in 2013--said gun control was a complex issue that shouldn't be used for political advantage.

"I've heard some people say this isn't complicated," he said. "Well those people are simpletons. This issue is very complicated."

The governor also reaffirmed his stance that putting armed guards in schools are not a viable solution for his state. "I don't think having schools turned into armed camps is necessarily the way to go," he said.

Asked if he thought the president was exhibiting leadership on the issue, Christie said that would be determined by his future actions, not by simply pulling together a task force.

He said that assigning Vice President Joe Biden to head up his task force was a "smart, reasonable" thing to do," praising the vice president's many years of experience on the Senate Judiciary Committee.