Pro-gun control advocate to Gov. Christie: ‘You’re not the guy that shuns the Sandy Hook families’

Frustrated that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a pro-gun control bill last week that would have lowered the state’s magazine capacity limit from 15 rounds down to 10, John Koch, a pro-gun control advocate, penned an open letter to the Republican governor in an attempt to urge him to meet with the mother of one of the victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December of 2012.

In vetoing the measure last Wednesday, Christie said, “It simply defies common sense to believe that imposing a new and entirely arbitrary number of bullets that can be lawfully loaded into a firearm will somehow eradicate, or even reduce, future instances of mass violence. Nor is it sufficient to claim that a ten-round capacity might spare an eleventh victim.”

Apparently, Christie’s rather sound dismissal of the bill stuck in the craw of many pro-gun control advocates.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Governor Christie:

I’m writing you in the hope that you will reconsider meeting with Nicole Hockley, a mother whose bright-eyed, beautiful son Dylan was one of the 20 first-graders systematically shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Since the middle of May, Nicole and several of the other Sandy Hook family members have called your office multiple times a week requesting a meeting to discuss an important piece of legislation — legislation that if passed, could prevent a similar tragedy or lessen the loss of life. You ignored them at every turn. Last week, they waited outside your office holding a petition with enough signatures to fill MetLife Stadium, and you walked past them and vetoed the bill anyway. Governor, you have to make this right. These families have endured the most horrific kind of loss. They deserve better from our leaders. And I believe, perhaps naively, given your purported values, beliefs, influences that deep down inside, you’re not this guy.

Your springs are spent coaching little league. Mine too. Your summers are spent passionately (and often frustratingly) rooting for the New York Mets. Mine too. And like me, you came of age to the songs of New Jersey’s Poet Laureate/Boss — one, Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen. You’re not the guy that shuns the Sandy Hook families. If you are, you have bigger problems than a Fort Lee traffic jam.

As someone who has had the honor and privilege of meeting with Nicole Hockley, I can attest Nicole’s courage will move you. If you cry during her story (and cry you will), she’ll apologize for bringing you to tears. You will learn that before her son’s life was so violently taken, Dylan was autistic. Whenever Dylan became excited he would flap his arms. When his mother asked him why he liked to flap his arms he would say, “Because I am a beautiful butterfly.” Nicole draws inspiration on the image of her son flapping his wings — the idea that the flutter of a butterfly can spark the winds of change. And that’s exactly why she’s trying to meet with you — so no other parent will experience such grief. It’s a pretty noble pursuit, whether or not you agree with her politically.

The parents behind Sandy Hook Promise are far from anti-gun. This isn’t a radical fringe organization. It’s a group of regular moms and dads from Connecticut. Much of what they advocate for, like background checks, are policies endorsed by 90 percent of Americans. These families have learned that in a mass shooting, the more bullets a magazine or clip can hold, the greater chance of mortality — evidence you dismissed last week as “trivial.” Perhaps you didn’t realize, if the gunman at Sandy Hook were forced to reload more often, a greater number of 6-year-olds would now be 8-year-olds — which is why this bill is extremely significant, and why your dismissive veto felt like a slap in the face to the memory of their dead children.

Your fallback excuse has been that you met with some family members more than a year ago. But that was before this legislation, and back then, you pledged your support to the families and alluded that you would be the kind of politician who would rise above party politics. You’ve been silent since.

This week you said you didn’t want to meet the families because it would be “hypocritical,” because you had already decided to veto the legislation. With all due respect, I don’t think you’re afraid to appear hypocritical. All politicians, Democrat or Republican, appear hypocritical at one point in their careers. It’s practically part of the job description, right under “must be comfortable to shake hands” and “willing to kiss babies.”

I do believe you’re afraid of hearing Nicole’s story. Because in hearing that story, Nicole is going to boldly ask you to imagine that it was your child that was gunned down. And like most of us, I think you are afraid to imagine what happened to Nicole’s son, God forbid, happening to one of your four lovely children or a member of the little league team you coach. I don’t blame you. I have young kids, I coach little league, and the thought of Newtown scares the hell out of me too. I get it. It’s easier just to turn away and decline the meeting.

While most politicians are masters at feigning empathy for political gain, I sense you have the ability to feel real empathy. This seemed evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Maybe I was swept up in the moment, but I kind of thought all the heart and soul you experienced at countless Springsteen concerts finally rubbed off on you.

Bruce is my hero too — not just because of the joy his music brings — but because of where he’s chosen to point his songwriting pen. Springsteen met with Vietnam veterans left behind in a country they so valiantly defended, and he reminded us we were all “Born in the USA.” When gay men were stigmatized by the burgeoning AIDS epidemic, Springsteen took us to the “Streets of Philadelphia.” After 9/11 left us heartbroken, “The Rising” lifted us. And perhaps most relevant to this argument, after 23-year-old Amadou Diallo was shot at 41 times by NYPD plainclothes officers, he gave us “American Skin,” a haunting, cautionary tale about the rules of the street from a mother’s point of view. When Springsteen debuted the song, shortly before performing at Madison Square Garden, members of the NYPD called him a “dirtbag” and threatened to boycott working his MSG stand. Springsteen performed the song anyway. He could have shied away from the controversy and played one of hundreds of other songs in his canon.

It’s that kind of courage, compassion and leadership that Americans are asking you to find within yourself. The Boss’ music measures the distance between the American dream and American reality. When we go to his shows, we measure the distance between who we are and who we’d like to be. The mark on you at this moment is you’re a guy who puts himself before his people. Take a page from Springsteen. Is this who you want to be?

When you were justifying the decision to keep 15 bullets in a clip instead of 10, you inadvertently said something pretty profound: “If you take the logical conclusion of [the families’] argument, you go to zero, because every life is valuable.” Exactly. Every life is valuable. So here’s the website to Sandy Hook Promise. Invite these parents back. You’ll be a better man for it, and maybe a better leader too.

***

If you were Gov. Christie, how would you respond?

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Vanns40 May 5, 2017, 9:47 am

    What would be the response of these legislators if, instead of using a gun, the perpetrator had simply used a large truck and run over and killed 50 or more children on a playground. That was the weapon of choice in France and it was quite effective at killing and wounding more than 200! What would the letter to Gov. Christie read if that were the case?

  • Eugene Waybright March 17, 2017, 9:57 am

    I feel that legal firearm owners should be able to purchase any magazine size that they want up to 32 rounds for all firearms.
    We are living in a more dangerous world like people putting up no gun zones is going to magically stop firearm from being used. We can tell you the facts that it increases the firearm attacks. I am a strong supporter that this stupid size rules on magazines has proved it does not stop crime. They only allow criminals to have larger magazines. Everyone in America should be able to purchase any semiautomatic firearm on the market which includes AR-15 hunting Rifles that are used by Handicapped individuals in the field to protect themselves against the animals that they are hunting. They do not fire at a faster rate than any other semiautomatic on the market. All hunting Rifles including the AR-15 only fire at the rate that the trigger mechanism takes to reset which is about 30 rounds per minute. At-15 are given a bad light because they look like only other black RIFLES.

    THE MILITARY ONLY M-16 FULL AUTOMATIC RIFLE FIRES AT 600 ROUNDS PER MINUTE. THE FACTS THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA RELEASED 2,000 CASES OF MILITARY ONLY M-16 RIFLES TO ISIS WITH A DOCUMENT THAT RUSSIA HAS THAT PROVES CLINTON APPROVE THE TRANSFER UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA ALONG WITH AMMUNITION THAT WAS NOT ALLOWED TO BE SOLD TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO ARTIFICIAL RAISE AMMUNITION PRICES 5 TIMES HIGHER TO BENEFIT GEORGE SOROS, HILLERY CLINTON, & BARRACK OBAMA AMMUNITIONS COMPANIES THAT THEY ALL RECEIVE PROFITS FROM GEORGE SOROS COMPANIES. GEORGE SOROS THE MAN THAT HELP ADOLF HITLER KILL AND ROB JEWS IS ALLOWED TO BE A PROFITEER.

    We need the AR-15 hunting Rifles with large capacity magazines to be able to defend our homes from criminals that do not buy firearms on the street. Americans need to wake up that their are millions of Muslims in our country that are raping our women and killing are children here and aboard. The illegal Muslims that come only from the banned countries that helped Adolf Hitler and Other illegal aliens that are illegal citizens that are not protected under the United States Constitution. They do not have the rights to live in SANCTUARY CITIES. The Sanctuary Cities are illegal under the United States Constitution as all illegal aliens must be deported permanently. They have no Constitutional Rights as they did not enter our country legally.

    .

  • Jim Poteet September 22, 2014, 2:38 pm

    Pulling on peoples heart strings will not change matters dictated by the REAL world. I sympathize with this mans loss nevertheless the world and it’s realities will not be set aside and negating +300,000 other citizens RIGHTS because of it smacks of law by emotion, not of constitutionality.

  • tim July 14, 2014, 7:55 pm

    You know, it just baffles the mind to think that reducing mags to 10 serves any purpose. Lanza left the 10 rounder’s home and took 30 rounder’s. Maddow just does not get it, she completely ignores the fact that somehow banning mags to 10 rounds, will make the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of mags greater than 10 rounds just disappear. Lacking commonsense and ratings, hope she gets canceled soon.

  • Parnell July 14, 2014, 2:32 pm

    I just wonder why these people expect the Governor of New Jersey to base his decisions on the desires of people from Connecticut. The local NJ papers run on-line polls when they run stories about this debate and the results are overwhelmingly opposed to further gun-control laws. When the original magazine reduction to 15 rounds was passed, the legislators promised that it was a one-time change. Well, guess what/? THEY LIED! The Governor simply won’t be part ofg this charade.

  • Mike July 11, 2014, 8:10 am

    Once again, we see the parents of Sandy Hook dancing on the graves of their children. How exactly would magazine limits and universal background checks have prevented the massacre at Sandy Hook? That’s right, they wouldn’t have stopped anything.

    How would a magazine ban have stopped the shooting? So the kid would have had to reload more often, who was going to stop him? The children, the teachers, the principal? No, the last two were cowering in fear and the children couldn’t protect themselves. Where was the resource officer?

    How would universal background checks (i.e. registration) have helped? The kid stole the gun, murdered his mother (who bought the gun legally) and shot up a school full of children. The last I checked, all of that is illegal. Maybe if he would have broken one more law, he might have thought it through? Please!

    The reason I say that the parents of Sandy Hook are dancing on the graves of their children is because none of the things they propose would have stopped or even prevented the massacre. Instead they are (as Andy Warhol said) “getting their 15 minutes of fame” and trying very hard to be relevant in this conversation. We, as pro gun people, can see the facts of this and are on to their charade.

    • Marc Miller July 14, 2014, 7:40 am

      Mike that was a terrific and very Christie – like response: informed assertive, to the point and unafraid. Have you considered running for governor of your state? 🙂

      That letter is a very effective form of propaganda. If you had no principles it was very compelling. It is a signature piece on behalf of liberalism: almost entirely emotional in content, persuasive but devoid of intellectual content and irrelevant to the real world. The real world is a hard place where might makes right. That’s the true reason liberals are trying so hard to disarm us. They will be merciless if they ever have absolute power and the kind exterior will disappear on a heart beat.

      • CHARLES N HERSOM October 24, 2016, 8:00 pm

        MR. MARC MILLER, THANK YOU FOR YOUR VERY LOGICAL FOLLOWUP TO MIKE, VERY GOOD. For some reason persons that only think with emotional logic seem to lack knowledge on some subjects. Firearms come in many configurations with many feeding choices however if you look at the letter it asks for a reduction in “CLIP” capacity – the AR-15 is fed by a magazine not “CLIPS”. It is also true that it makes no difference how many cartridges a firearm will shoot without reloading, a proficient user of firearms can reload faster than many people think is possible. The incident at Sandy Hook school was very tragic and I like you do not want to see anymore incidents like that but until schools take action to increase the security measures to make schools safer(Only one entrance with metal detectors, more armed security guards, bullet proof windows and doors maybe, etc.). There are security professionals that could/have met with school boards/districts to check out/suggest corrective actions to make schools safer and this has been done in many districts after Columbine, however, in many districts the suggested actions of the security professionals were not done for various reasons in many schools/districts. So even as tragic as Sandy Hook was the only possible action that would have prevented it from happening would have been to lock up Mr. Lanza in a mental facility as his mother knew that he was not mentally stable. I’m sorry that she did not take action to prevent Mr. Lanza from doing what he did – many people do not take actions to prevent tragic things from happening and that is their choice, some do in time and some do not. Just so you know where I come from I have been faced with a person holding a firearm and could have been dead in seconds, so don’t think I’m just saying something just to be saying it, I have also been a professional Security Officer as well and Martial Arts Expert Instructor with 8 earned Black Belts in 3 different Martial Arts styles.

        • MarkC February 9, 2017, 8:47 am

          Not to knock your hard earned martial arts achievements but it’s moot if you just carry a CCW. Just sayin…

          • Larry May 1, 2017, 6:40 am

            Charles N Hersom may live in one of those states, like the Democratic Peoples Republic of Maryland (DPRM), where it\’s practically impossible for an honest, law-abiding citizen to get a carry permit. In effect. The only people who can carry concealed are active and retired LEOS; people with a documented threat against them; people with a perceived threat against them such as judges, prosecutors, and legislators; people who can document that they routinely carry large sums of cash or large quanties of valuables in the course of their daily work; and criminals. Criminals? Yes. Criminals can\’t get a carry permit, but they do carry concealed because they can, even if they are not permitted to. We, in the meantime, are unarmed prey who have to pray.

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