Two years ago, New Jersey Gov Chris Christie signed a bill prohibiting people on federal terrorist watch lists from buying guns. Now his counterparts in Connecticut and New York are moving toward the same goal, but they may take different and potentially more controversial approaches to get there, says the Wall Street Journal. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy intends to issue an executive order directing the state police to deny guns to anyone on the watch lists. Some legal scholars say they don't think he has the authority to bypass the legislature and make that change himself. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that if Congress didn't pass a law barring the sale of guns to those on the watch lists, the federal government should allow states to use those lists to screen firearms buyers.
The U.S. Senate on Dec. 3 defeated a bill supported only by Democrats that sought to give the attorney general the authority to block the sale of firearms to people on federal watch lists. Republicans said it was unconstitutional and could deprive innocent people of their right to own guns. Some legal experts say Connecticut’s Malloy would overstep his authority if he issues the executive order. “It seems to me that this is exactly the kind of thing which would be appropriate for legislation,” said Richard Kay, associate dean for research and faculty development at the University of Connecticut School of Law. “That being the case, I don't think the governor, unless I'm missing something, should be able to essentially legislate this on his own.”