Back in 1995, Chris Christie loved New Jersey’s assault weapons ban so much he called anyone who’d attempt to repeal it “crazy” and “dangerous.” Now, along with everyone else in the Republican field, he is extremely mad about Obama’s relatively modest executive action on guns. What happened?

Christie, who fancies himself a man unafraid to say what he means, applied his trademark tough talk to the issue of gun control when he was a senatorial candidate in 1993 and 1995. At the time, GOP lawmakers were attempting to repeal New Jersey’s all-out ban on possessing assault rifles, an issue the future governor said “energized me to get into this race.” “They must be stopped,” he said, trying to undo the law.

The Obama executive order, by contrast, does not ban anything, but only expands the background checks required to sell guns. If you want an assault rifle and you’re qualified to own one, you can still have one. This week, Christie called Obama a “petulant child” and said he was ruling like a “dictator” for even considering the order.

Incredibly, until recently, the governor has chosen to pretend his earlier full-hearted support for a ban did not happen at all. In November, Politico notes, he said he didn’t remember backing the law, and that doing so “doesn’t sound like me.” Completely forgetting the issue that supposedly catalyzed your first big-ticket run for elected office seems like a stretch, and last night on Hannity, Christie gave an implicit acknowledgment of the truth. “Well listen, in 1995, Sean, I was 32 years old and I’ve changed my mind,” he told the Fox News host. Presidential politics will do that to you.

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