Romney flip flops on gun rights?
Now that Mitt Romney has the Republican presidential nomination all
but officially won, he has two main challenges. The first is to energize
a Republican base that has been cool to him. The second is to win back
moderate, independent, swing voters who voted in 2008 for Barack Obama.
Friday, he's focusing on Job 1 — the base.
In St. Louis, Romney will address the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association.
A Rocky Relationship
last time Romney spoke to the NRA convention in person, in 2009, he
acknowledged a reality of his political career, saying the NRA's "Boston
chapter is a little small these days."
Massachusetts, where Romney served one term as governor, gun rights are
not very popular. And his statements while running for office in
Massachusetts in 2002 acknowledged that.
do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts. I support them. I won't chip
away at them. I believe they help protect us and provide for our
safety," said Romney.
Eight years earlier, when running for the Senate, Romney supported a bill that imposed a five-day wait for people buying guns.
He told the Boston Herald, "That's not going to make me the hero of the NRA."
But when he started running for president in 2007, Romney opposed a waiting period to buy guns. Opponents called it a flip-flop.
Romney appeared on NBC's Meet the Press, saying technology had changed: The Internet now lets you do background checks in moments.
original [Brady Bill] had a waiting period because it took a long time
to check on people's backgrounds. Today, we can check instantly on
backgrounds. I don't want to cause a waiting period that's not necessary
based upon today's technology," Romney said.
Massachusetts governor, Romney also signed a bill making the state's
temporary assault weapons ban permanent. "These guns are not made for
recreation or self-defense. They are instruments of destruction with the
sole purpose of hunting down and killing people," Romney said at the
During that same appearance on Meet The Press in 2007, Romney explained that
he signed the bill because both the pro-gun and anti-gun lobby
supported it. "I signed an assault weapons ban in Massachusetts as
governor because it provided for a relaxation of licensing requirements
for gun owners in Massachusetts, which was a big plus."
Not A 'Big Game Hunter'
was part of a broad Romney effort during the last presidential campaign
to convince gun owners that he's one of them. He bought a lifetime NRA
membership just before he began that run, during which he said, "I've
been a hunter pretty much all my life."
Disappointment With Obama
Romney may not have been the NRA's first choice in the Republican
field. But UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who generally supports gun
rights, says the NRA and its supporters won't hold a grudge.
think for them the question is going to be, 'Who is most likely to
oppose any federal gun control proposals, who is most likely to support
extra protection for gun ... owners, and who is most likely to nominate
Supreme Court justices who are going to reaffirm the Second Amendment as
an individual right to keep and bear arms?' " said Volokh.
that measure, gun-rights supporters believe that any Republican would
be better than President Obama — even though the Obama administration
has been virtually silent on guns.
guns have been disconcertingly low on the national list of political
priorities," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent
"President Obama himself has
not been nearly as outspoken on the gun issue as we would hope, so it
goes all the way to the top," said Gross.
been far more action at the state level, says Gary Kleck, professor of
criminal justice at Florida State University. "The needle has moved in
certain areas, and it's moved to the right, to the less-strict-control
direction, and that's especially true in the area of carrying guns in
public places," Kleck says.
He says 44 of the
50 states now offer permits for adults without a criminal background to
carry concealed weapons, adding "that certainly was not true, let's
say, 25 years ago."
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