The Choice – Bad Versus Perhaps Coming Around has released a new infographic which compares Mitt and Barack on gun rights issues and what they’ve done in the past. Let’s face it, both have things in their past which should rightly concern gun owners.

However, Obama has doubled-down and called for a new AWB as well as restrictions on “cheap handguns” while Romney has said we don’t need new laws. I’d rather take the guy who is coming around to our side than the one who still in his heart of hearts looks at us with disgust.

Shooting Straight: A Surprising Look At How Both Presidential Candidates Have Changed On Gun Control [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Debate Gun Question

I was a bit surprised that the issue of firearms even came up in the debate last night as I would have thought the Democrats wouldn’t want to touch it with a 10 foot pole. I wasn’t surprised by Obama’s answer but was pleased that Romney did try to bring up Operation Fast and Furious before being cut-off by CNN’s Chief hack Political Correspondent Candy Crowley though he didn’t push it far enough.

The questioner, identified as Nina E. Gonzalez, is probably this woman – Nina Fedirko-Gonzalez, Licensed Clinical Social Worker. The person on Facebook appears to be the same person as in the Media Matters’ picture from the debate. As far as I can tell, she is not a contributor to any candidate in state, local, or national elections. I checked the NY State campaign contribution database,, and the Federal Elections Commission.

If you read the transcript below you will see that both candidates are relatively ignorant about firearms. Romney said automatic weapons are illegal which they aren’t and Obama conflated semi-auto weapons with cosmetic similarities into full-auto/select-fire military-grade firearms. The best I can say about it is that Obama come out in favor of a new AWB and Romney said we don’t need new laws as well as merely mentioned Operation Fast and Furious. As to Romney and gun bills in Massachusetts, here is what the Gun Owners Action League said about it in 2007.

QUESTION: President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in
2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of
criminals. What has your administration done or planned to do to limit
the availability of assault weapons?

OBAMA: We’re a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, and I
believe in the Second Amendment. We’ve got a long tradition of hunting
and sportsmen and people who want to make sure they can protect

But there have been too many instances during the course of my
presidency, where I’ve had to comfort families who have lost somebody.
Most recently out in Aurora. You know, just a couple of weeks ago,
actually, probably about a month, I saw a mother, who I had met at the
bedside of her son, who had been shot in that theater.

And her son had been shot through the head. And we spent some time, and
we said a prayer and, remarkably, about two months later, this young man
and his mom showed up, and he looked unbelievable, good as new.

But there were a lot of families who didn’t have that good fortune and whose sons or daughters or husbands didn’t survive.

So my belief is that, (A), we have to enforce the laws we’ve already
got, make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands of criminals,
those who are mentally ill. We’ve done a much better job in terms of
background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comes to

But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for
soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’m
trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the
violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault
weapons ban reintroduced.
But part of it is also looking at other
sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago,
there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s. They’re
using cheap hand guns.

And so what can we do to intervene, to make sure that young people have
opportunity; that our schools are working; that if there’s violence on
the streets, that working with faith groups and law enforcement, we can
catch it before it gets out of control.

And so what I want is a — is a comprehensive strategy. Part of it is
seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing
numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
But part of
it is also going deeper and seeing if we can get into these communities
and making sure we catch violent impulses before they occur.

CROWLEY: Governor Romney, the question is about assault weapons, AK-47s.

ROMNEY: Yeah, I’m not in favor of new pieces of legislation on — on
guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal.
We, of course,
don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s already illegal in
this country to have automatic weapons.
What I believe is we have to do,
as the president mentioned towards the end of his remarks there, which
is to make enormous efforts to enforce the gun laws that we have, and to
change the culture of violence that we have.

And you ask how — how are we going to do that? And there are a number
of things. He mentioned good schools. I totally agree. We were able to
drive our schools to be number one in the nation in my state. And I
believe if we do a better job in education, we’ll — we’ll give people
the — the hope and opportunity they deserve and perhaps less violence
from that. But let me mention another thing. And that is parents. We
need moms and dads, helping to raise kids. Wherever possible the — the
benefit of having two parents in the home, and that’s not always
possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh to tell our
kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting
married to someone, that’s a great idea.

Because if there’s a two parent family, the prospect of living in
poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will —
will be able to achieve increase dramatically. So we can make changes
in the way our culture works to help bring people away from violence and
give them opportunity, and bring them in the American system. The —
the greatest failure we’ve had with regards to — to gun violence in
some respects is what — what is known as Fast and Furious. Which was a
program under this administration, and how it worked exactly I think we
don’t know precisely, where thousands of automatic, and AK-47 type
weapons were — were given to people that ultimately gave them to — to
drug lords.

They used those weapons against — against their own citizens and killed
Americans with them. And this was a — this was a program of the
government. For what purpose it was put in place, I can’t imagine. But
it’s one of the great tragedies related to violence in our society which
has occurred during this administration. Which I think the American
people would like to understand fully, it’s been investigated to a
degree, but — but the administration has carried out executive
privilege to prevent all of the information from coming out.

I’d like to understand who it was that did this, what the idea was
behind it, why it led to the violence, thousands of guns going to
Mexican drug lords.

OBAMA: Candy?

CROWLEY: Governor, Governor, if I could, the question was about these
assault weapons that once were once banned and are no longer banned.

I know that you signed an assault weapons ban when you were in
Massachusetts, obviously, with this question, you no longer do support
that. Why is that, given the kind of violence that we see sometimes with
these mass killings? Why is it that you have changed your mind?

ROMNEY: Well, Candy, actually, in my state, the pro-gun folks and the
anti-gun folks came together and put together a piece of legislation.
And it’s referred to as an assault weapon ban, but it had, at the
signing of the bill, both the pro-gun and the anti-gun people came
together, because it provided opportunities for both that both wanted.

There were hunting opportunities, for instance, that haven’t previously
been available and so forth, so it was a mutually agreed- upon piece of
legislation. That’s what we need more of, Candy. What we have right now
in Washington is a place that’s gridlocked.

CROWLEY: So I could — if you could get people to agree to it, you would be for it?

ROMNEY: We have —

OBAMA: Candy?

ROMNEY: — we haven’t had the leadership in Washington to work on a
bipartisan basis. I was able to do that in my state and bring these two

CROWLEY: Quickly, Mr. President.

OBAMA: The — first of all, I think Governor Romney was for an assault
weapons ban before he was against it. And he said that the reason he
changed his mind was, in part, because he was seeking the endorsement of
the National Rifle Association. So that’s on the record.

But I think that one area we agree on is the important of parents and
the importance of schools, because I do believe that if our young people
have opportunity, then they are less likely to engage in these kinds of
violent acts. We’re not going to eliminate everybody who is mentally
disturbed and we have got to make sure they don’t get weapons.

OBAMA: because I do believe that if our young people have opportunity,
then they’re less likely to engage in these kind of violent acts.

We’re not going to eliminate everybody who is mentally disturbed, and
we’ve got to make sure they don’t get weapons. But we can make a
difference in terms ensuring that every young person in America,
regardless of where they come from, what they look like, have a chance
to succeed.

And, Candy, we haven’t had a chance to talk about education much, but I
think it is very important to understand that the reforms we’ve put in
place, working with 46 governors around the country, are seeing schools
that are some of the ones that are the toughest for kids starting to
succeed. We’re starting to see gains in math and science.

When it comes to community colleges, we are setting up programs,
including with Nassau Community College, to retrain workers, including
young people who may have dropped out of school but now are getting
another chance, training them for the jobs that exist right now.

And in fact, employers are looking for skilled workers. And so we’re
matching them up. Giving them access to higher education. As I said, we
have made sure that millions of young people are able to get an
education that they weren’t able to get before.


CROWLEY: Mr. President, I have to — I have to move you along here. You said you wanted to…


CROWLEY: We need to do it here.

OBAMA: But — but it’ll — it’ll — it’ll be…


OBAMA: … just one second.


OBAMA: Because — because this is important. This is part of the choice in this election.

When Governor Romney was asked whether teachers, hiring more teachers
was important to growing our economy, Governor Romney said that doesn’t
grow our economy.

When — when he was asked would class size…


CROWLEY: The question, Mr. President, was guns here, so I need to move us along.

OBAMA: I understand.

CROWLEY: You know, the question was guns. So let me — let me bring in another…

OBAMA: But this will make a difference in terms of whether or not we can move this economy forward for these young people…

CROWLEY: I understand.

OBAMA: … and reduce our violence.

CROWLEY: OK. Thank you so much.

Romney Campaign On NRA Endorsement

Along with the NRA-PVF announcement of their endorsement of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan comes the Romney-Ryan campaign’s announcement of it.

Mitt Romney today announced the endorsement of the National Rifle Association.

“As the Supreme Court has recently reaffirmed, the Second Amendment
protects a basic and fundamental individual right—the right to bear
arms,” said Mitt Romney. “And it is the NRA that protects the Second
Amendment. I am proud to have their support for my candidacy, and when I
am president, I will do all in my power to defend and protect the right
of all law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms.”

“As a lifelong hunter, I am a strong supporter of Second Amendment
rights,” said Paul Ryan. “The Second Amendment is essential to the
functioning of a free society. Not only do millions of Americans own
firearms, but recreational hunting and shooting adds billions to our
economy every year and supports thousands of jobs. The NRA is committed
to protecting our Second Amendment rights. Mitt Romney and I will have
that same commitment when we are in the White House.”

“Since 1871, the NRA has protected the right of men and women across
our country to keep and bear arms,” said Chairman of the NRA Political
Victory Fund Chris Cox. “This right is enshrined in our Constitution
through the Second Amendment. It’s the right that makes all of our other
constitutional rights possible. Americans deserve to have a friend of
our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage in the White House.
That’s why we are proud to endorse Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for
President and Vice President of the United States. Mitt and Paul will
defend all of our constitutional freedoms from those who would seek to
limit or deny them. We encourage every freedom-loving American to vote
for the Romney-Ryan ticket on November 6.”

NRA Endorses Romney-Ryan

In the not exactly unexpected news category comes the announcement that the NRA-PVF has endorsed the ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for President and Vice-President respectively. What is somewhat unexpected is the size of the crowd that came out to Fisherville, VA for the announcement and rally. It was estimated to be approximately 15,000 and cars were back up for miles trying to get in.

CSpan has the video feed from the rally. At approximately the 53:00 mark you will see Wayne LaPierre begin to give the NRA’s endorsement.

From the Romney Scrapbook on Facebook

From the Romney Scrapbook on Facebook
From the Romney Scrapbook on Facebook

In addition to the endorsement by the NRA-PVF, the rally featured a concert by country music star and NRA Life Member Trace Adkins.

The endorsement is below:

Fairfax, VA. – The National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund
today announced its endorsement of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for
President and Vice President. NRA’s Executive Vice President, Wayne
LaPierre, and NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) Chairman, Chris W.
Cox, made the announcement in Fishersville, Virginia, during a rally
with both Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan in attendance. Also,
attending and performing at the press conference was country music
superstar and NRA Life Member Trace Adkins.

“Virginia is ground
zero – the front line of this election. This is where the race could be
won or lost. This is where the difference can be made. This is where gun
owners must make that difference.” said LaPierre.

“Today, we
live in an America that is getting harder to recognize every day led by a
President who mocks our values, belittles our faith, and is threatened
by our freedom.” said Cox. “So on behalf of the four million men and
women of the National Rifle Association, representing tens of millions
of NRA supporters, it is my honor to announce the NRA’s endorsement of
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for President and Vice President of the United

The actions of President Barack Obama have harmed the
Second Amendment for generations to come. He has appointed two anti-gun
nominees to the Supreme Court – one of whom has already signed an
opinion saying that law-abiding Americans do not have an individual
right to own firearms. Obama’s administration worked on a United Nations
Arms Trade Treaty that would undermine our Second Amendment rights, and
he has helped cover-up the deadly Operation Fast and Furious scandal,
arming Mexican drug cartels that continue to kill countless innocent
American and Mexican citizens. He has also said that the ability of
lawful citizens to carry a firearm for personal protection should be
banned nationwide. As a state legislator, he opposed a law to protect
people who use guns in their own homes for self-defense; endorsed a
total ban on the manufacturing, sale and possession of all handguns; and
supported a 500 percent increase in federal taxes on guns and
ammunition. Unaccountable to the voters, America’s 100 million gun
owners justifiably fear that a second Obama term would bring an all-out
assault on the Second Amendment.

But there’s a clear choice this
November. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will protect our Right to Keep and
Bear Arms by appointing Supreme Court justices who will uphold the
rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of
Chicago – two landmark cases which held that the Second Amendment
guarantees a fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms for all
law-abiding Americans. Romney and Ryan have also stated their
opposition to efforts by the United Nations to implement a global
gun-control bureaucracy.

“In this election, there is no debate.
There is only one choice – only one hope – to save our firearms freedom
and our way of life,” LaPierre continued. “Get to the polls on election
day and make the difference in this campaign. Help take back our country
and protect our freedom. On November 6, vote freedom first – Vote

Ryan On Guns

With Mitt Romney’s pick of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to be his running mate, I wanted to know where Ryan stood on guns and gun control. I know where Ryan stands on economic issues but what about guns.

It’s a good record. He has been both rated A and endorsed by the NRA-PVF going back to at least 2002. The archives don’t go back any further than that.

Gun Owners of America rates him an A. They define this as “A & A- Pro-Gun Voter: philosophically sound.”

On The Issues has this on his record on gun rights:

  • Voted YES on prohibiting product misuse lawsuits on gun manufacturers. (Oct 2005)
  • Voted YES on prohibiting suing gunmakers & sellers for gun misuse. (Apr 2003)
  • Voted YES on decreasing gun waiting period from 3 days to 1. (Jun 1999)
  • Rated A by the NRA, indicating a pro-gun rights voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • National cross-state standard for concealed carry. (Jan 2009)
  • Ban gun registration & trigger lock law in Washington DC. (Mar 2007)
  • Allow reloading spent military small arms ammunition. (Apr 2009)

More recently, he was a co-sponsor of HR 822, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, and HR 615, the Collectible Firearms Protection Act, which allows M-1 Garands and M-1 Carbines to be repatriated without State Department approval.

Ryan is also an outdoorsman. He reportedly proposed to his wife Janna at his favorite fishing lake in Wisconsin. Moreover, in what will drive the PETAfiles nuts, he includes pictures of deer and turkey that he shot on his Congressional campaign website. Here is Ryan with a nice 8-pointer.

With regard to the contempt vote for Attorney General Eric Holder, Ryan said Holder brought it upon himself for stonewalling the Oversight Committee in the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious. The video of this interview can be seen here.

On the Department of Justice’s handling of the “Fast and Furious” operation:

Paul Ryan: Attorney General Eric Holder brought this upon himself. He has been stonewalling Congress for 16 months and, yes, he can avoid this if he brings the documents that have been requested for months.

NeilCavuto: Do you think a lot of cynics will say quickly that this is along party lines and this is sort of like a Republican cabal to embarrass the Attorney General and embarrass the White House. What are you saying?

Paul Ryan: I think what’s embarrassing is “Fast and Furious.” It is something that should never happen ever again and we need to get to the bottom of it. All Congress is doing is its job, detailed in the Constitution, to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. We have separation of powers for a very important reason, to preserve liberty and limits to government, and this is being infringed upon by this stonewalling so we are just doing our jobs here in the Legislative Branch.

 Finally, here is what a much younger Paul Ryan had to say to C-Span about gun control laws back in 1998 when he was a Congressman-elect. (Thanks to TTAG for the pointer on this.)

As a gun owner, I think Mitt Romney made a good choice with the pick of Paul Ryan as his running mate. As an American, I think he made an even better choice because of Ryan’s determination to not pass the buck on fiscal issues to another generation.  
UPDATE: More on Ryan and the Second Amendment from Also has another picture to drive PETA nuts not that they aren’t already.

That’s A Good Question, Mitt!

Mitt Romney has been attacked recently by the Obama campaign for not releasing his 2011 tax returns. He appeared on Fox’s Fox and Friends show this morning as part of his counter-attack. You can see the full interview here but this is the part that I found relevant.

Instead of asking why Romney hasn’t released his tax returns, Romney said the question should be why hasn’t the Obama Administration released the documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious. As one Tweet said elsewhere, Romney’s tax returns never killed anyone.

Electoral Math

The Wall Street Journal ran a story today examining what they characterize as the math challenge for Mitt Romney. As we know from our US Civics class – or should know – the actual popular vote for president is relatively irrelevant. What is relevant is how many electoral votes a candidate gets in the Electoral College. The magic number is 270 which equals one-half the number of Congressmen and Senators (with three allotted to the District of Columbia) plus one.

Looking at the starting points for Obama and Romney you get Obama with a base of about 230 electoral votes and Romney with a base of 190 electoral votes. For Obama, this translates into the West Coast, New York, and the Northeast. Meanwhile, Romney can count on Texas, most of the Rockies, the Deep South, and the Plains states.

If Romney carried all the states that George W. Bush won in 2004, he would get 292 electoral votes and have a respectable victory. However, there are nine states that Bush carried that went for Obama in 2008. These swing states are Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada. Romney must get the five largest of these states plus one more if he is to win.

Spot Mr. Romney the five biggest swing states the Democrat won four years ago—Florida, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana—and the Republican still wouldn’t be guaranteed the White House. To win, he would need to also carry at least one other state that went to Mr. Obama four years ago.

That makes Mr. Romney’s path to the White House narrow and perilous, while Mr. Obama has multiple routes to victory, including several that don’t require him to win either Florida or Ohio, the most important battlegrounds of past elections.

Frankly, as a gun owner, American, and taxpayer, the mere thought of a second Obama presidency scares the hell out of me.

I can’t say I’m thrilled with Mitt Romney and he definitely wasn’t my first choice of the Republican candidates and non-candidates. I found his speech at the NRA Annual Meeting’s Leadership Forum to be workmanlike and not exactly inspiring. I think the reaction of those in attendance was similar. Nonetheless, I did vote for Romney last week in the early voting for the North Carolina primary and will be voting for him in November.


In a word, judges. The two big Second Amendment cases, Heller and McDonald, were decided in our favor with 5-4 majorities. If only one of the five were to retire or die and we had a President Obama appointing another Sotomayor or Kagan, our Second Amendment rights could be effectively lost for years to come.

While I, like Sebastian, was disappointed to see Romney put Robert Bork on his justice advisory team, I think that most judges that a President Romney would appoint would be friendlier to the Second Amendment than any judge (or justice) appointed by Obama. I also like that Romney put Alan Gura on his legal advisory team.

I know there are many in the gun rights community who say “a pox on both their houses” and that they plan to sit this one out. I can understand that if you live in California or Texas or Tennessee or Massachusetts or any of the other states that are not in play. However, if you live in a battleground state or one of the states like Pennsylvania or Michigan that could come into play depending on the state of the economy, it is my opinion that you don’t have a choice if you want to protect your gun rights. Any vote not for Romney, whether it is a non-vote or a vote for a third party candidate, is just one less vote that Obama needs to get in order to win that state’s electoral votes.

Six months is a long time and a lot can happen in the meantime. We in the gun rights community cannot relax even for a moment until we hear Chief Justice John Roberts turn to the President-elect on January 20, 2012 and say, “I, Willard Mitt Romney, do solemnly swear…” And then it is our job to keep his feet to the fire on gun rights.

Some Thoughts On Romney At The Annual Meeting

Mitt Romney spoke before the NRA Annual Meeting Leadership Forum yesterday. It wasn’t a great speech; it wasn’t a bad speech. It seemed like it was a variation on his basic stump speech with maybe a few additions for the NRA audience. I would say the overall reception was polite if not enthusiastic.

The theme of Romney’s speech was freedom which seems to be what we’ve heard before in his speeches. He spoke about freedom in terms of religion, economics, and limited government. With regard to the NRA, he noted that they were a single issue group. He that they should get “high praise (for being a single interest group) when the issue is freedom.” He used this line as the intro into the rest of his speech on freedom.

In what I consider the variations tailored towards the NRA, he acknowledged the role that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in pursuing Operation Fast and Furious. He then acknowledged the NRA for saying that Attorney General Eric Holder should be fired. Both statements brought good applause. He then said “I will protect the Second Amendment rights of the American people” which brought a lot of applause.

In general, I’d say Romney did OK but could have had a speech more tailored to his audience with more memorable nuggets. Overall, it was what it was. The speech won’t come back to haunt him with the Obama campaign using snippets of it in its ads. However, the speech can’t be accused of being a rousing stump speech to rally the masses either.

Thirdpower at Days of our Trailers blog did capture some of the misleading tweets from the Brady Campaign and CSGV during the Leadership Forum. You can read them here.

You can see the speech for yourself below:

Quick Thoughts On Santorum And Romney

Soon after the Santorum announcement that he was suspending his campaign for President yesterday, I happened to be listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. I’m not usually in a location where I can listen to Rush and this was rather rare for me.

Rush commented that with Santorum out of the race Romney could now start tacking towards the center. He said to listen to Romney’s speeches starting now to see these indications. Rush’s comment made a lot of sense and I checked Romney’s campaign schedule for major appearances in the next few days. His next major appearance will be at – you guessed it – the NRA Annual Meeting and its “Celebration of American Values Leadership Forum“.

I will be attending the Leadership Forum and will be looking for signs of this. I definitely plan to report on it for the blog. The old political scientist in me is actually chomping at the bit over it even though these events usually bore me to tears.

Little or no blogging for the rest of the day as we are about to hit the road for St. Louis.

If there is any special gun you want me to check out or booth to visit, just let me know in the comments. I do have an interview scheduled with Paul Barrett who is the author of Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun. If you think of any questions you want asked, just let me know.

In Case You Missed It This Weekend

There were a lot of great blog posts over the weekend in the gun blogosphere. However, there are two that I really want to point as worthy of a careful read.

The first is by Barron Barnett at The Minuteman. It is an open letter to Joan Peterson, gun prohibitionist and Brady Campaign board member, who took great exception to the video that he and Joe Huffman produced. Barron points out the hypocrisy of her views, the attacks made on gun rights activists by the prohibitionists, and how we care about all victims of violence – not the select few.

The second post is an examination of Mitt Romney’s record in Massachusetts by Bitter at Shall Not Be Questioned. During the time that Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, Bitter was a resident of the commonwealth and was active with the Gun Owners Action League. She points out she is not a fan of Romney – nor am I for that matter – but felt the need to clarify his record on firearms from that time because we would be doing “our constituency a disservice if we aren’t honest about Mitt’s record on gun rights.” It turns out he did a number of things that actually helped gun owners.

As I said in the intro, both of these posts are worthy of your time and should be read. The former because it points out where the other side is coming from and the latter because we don’t always get the candidate and probably nominee for President we might wish to have.