Chris Christie: New York Times gun control op-ed "liberal claptrap"

Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie doesn't think highly of a New York Times editorial calling for stricter gun control laws in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting.

"It's typical liberal claptrap from the New York Times," Christie told "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson in an interview set to air Sunday. "The fact is that what we need to be focused on here are two issues: taking criminals who commit crimes with handguns and putting them in jail. And we have to work on our mental health system in this country to give doctors and caregivers greater latitude to involuntarily commit folks who have mental health issues and who don't want to take their medication and help themselves."

In the editorial, published in Saturday's edition, the Times editorial board condemned elected officials "whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms."

"It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency," the editorial board wrote. "Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership."

The op-ed came just days after two shooters, armed with semiautomatic assault weapons, killed 14 people and injured 21 others during a massacre at a social services center in San Bernardino, California. The FBI is investigating the shooting as an act of terrorism, in part because officials believe the shooters, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, may have been radicalized by terrorist elements in the U.S. and abroad, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Christie also criticized President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner in the 2016 election, for what he saw as a premature pivot to gun control in the wake of the deadly rampage.

"Remember, the president and the secretary, before they even knew what was going on here, ran out on the first moments after this attack and said this was a gun control issue," Christie said. "I don't know what gun control laws, john, are going to stop terrorists from attacking us. But this is the typical liberal approach to things...They wanted to try to turn this awful tragedy into an excuse to have greater gun control."

Christie argued that enhanced government surveillance tools will do more to secure the U.S. than stricter gun control, and he snuck in a dig at two GOP primary rivals, Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, for supporting a bill that limited some of the government surveillance tools enacted after 9/11.

"What we really need is greater intelligence, which the president has taken away from this country with the complicity of [Senator] Cruz and Senator Paul, and we need to make sure that we back our law enforcement so they can take these criminals off the streets," Christie explained.

Tune in Sunday to see more of our interview with Christie! Check your local listings for airtimes.