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Romney On Guns: Flip-Flopping To The NRA

This article is more than 10 years old.
Mitt Romney speaks at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis on April 13. (AP)
Mitt Romney speaks at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis on April 13. (AP)

I vaguely recalled that Mitt Romney had supported a ban on assault weapons like the ones used in the Aurora, Colo., theater massacre. One visit to Google uncovered the facts pieced together by Seema Mehta, a staff writer for The Los Angeles Times.

Rather than rewrite her story, allow me to quote some damning facts about Romney’s history on this horribly relevant issue:

As governor of Massachusetts, he signed the first permanent state ban on assault weapons. "Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts," Romney said at the bill-signing ceremony in 2004… "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."

When Romney ran for president in 2008, Mehta noted:

[H]e offered conflicting statements, saying that as president he would have signed a law renewing the federal ban. But he also said he did not believe any new gun restriction laws were necessary. "I do not support any new legislation of an assault weapon ban nature, including that against semiautomatic weapons," Romney said during a Florida debate in 2008. "I instead believe that we have laws in place that, if they’re implemented and enforced, will provide the protection and the safety of the American people." That is the same stance he holds today.

Mehta pointed out:

The AR-15 police say was used in the theater shooting is a semiautomatic rifle that is modeled on the military M-16. Versions of it were banned in the Massachusetts and federal laws, though there were loopholes that allowed modified AR-15s to be legally sold under both laws.

The high-capacity magazine that police said James Holmes purchased before the shooting remains illegal in Massachusetts under the law Romney signed and was prohibited under the federal ban that expired.

The LA Times reporter declared, "He has changed his tone as he sought the highest office in the land, joining the [NRA] as a 'lifetime member' in 2006. (Romney actually bought a “life membership” in the group by making a single $1,000 payment.)

Said Romney at an NRA convention in April:

It’s great to be with so many friends from the National Rifle Association. This fine organization is sometimes called a single-issue group. That’s high praise when the single issue is freedom. All of you can be proud of your long and unwavering defense of our constitutional rights and liberties.

Mehta continued in her article:

When Mitt Romney ran against Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1994, he backed gun-control measures strongly opposed by the gun-rights lobby, including the Brady Bill. He told reporters then that he didn’t "line up" with the National Rifle Assn., and he pledged not to chip away at gun control laws in Massachusetts.

"That’s not going to make me the hero of the NRA," he said in an interview with the Boston Herald then.

Romney is no Dick Cheney. Questioned in 2007 on why he’s lived in four states and didn’t have a hunting license in any of them, he took this curious trek: He began by claiming he’d been a hunter pretty much his entire life. The next day, he said he’d only hunted twice. The day after that, he said he’d hunted rabbits and other small animals. Then he wheeled and fired this one:

Varmints beware. “The report that I only hunted twice is incorrect,” (a report he had issued). He said, “I've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter, small varmints, if you will.” He added: “I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than two times.”

This program aired on July 24, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Dan Payne Democratic Political Analyst
Dan Payne is a Democratic political analyst for WBUR.



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