GOP's Gomez Changes View On Assault Weapons

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Republican Gabriel Gomez, who lost to U.S. Sen. Edward Markey in a June special election, said Wednesday he was weighing another run for the Senate but would also be open to teaming up with GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker if such an offer was made.

Gabriel Gomez told the Associated Press he would "seriously consider" running for lieutenant governor. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Gabriel Gomez told the Associated Press he would "seriously consider" running for lieutenant governor. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The former Navy SEAL from Cohasset discussed potential political opportunities while explaining his decision to reverse course and support a federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips. He previously opposed an assault weapons ban, a position that he acknowledges likely hurt him during the campaign for the Senate seat formerly held by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Gomez put the odds at about 50-50 that he would run for political office next year. He said he also was considering overtures from the private sector and would declare his plans later this fall.

Baker, a former health insurance executive who lost to Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010, is making a second bid for the office. Governors and lieutenant governors run separately in their respective party primaries in Massachusetts, but Republican candidates in recent times have typically identified running mates earlier in the process.

Gomez made clear that Baker had not made any offer but that he would "seriously consider" one if it came.

"I think Charlie's got a great chance. I know Charlie well, and I think he would be a great governor, and I think whoever is going to end up being his lieutenant governor is going to have a great experience," Gomez said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Baker has no plans to make any decisions about a running mate anytime soon, spokesman Tim Buckley said.

Gomez said he has not ruled out a rematch with Democrat Markey, who must run again in November 2014 after finishing out the remainder of Kerry's term, or possibly seek another office such as state treasurer.

Gomez backed enhanced background checks for would-be gun owners during the Senate campaign, but opposed a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban - a stance that Markey vigorously attacked.

Gomez said his original position was shaped by his support for Second Amendment rights but also by his Navy SEAL experience, in which he received extensive training in the handling of firearms.

"I was kind of skewed in thinking that people could safely handle an assault weapon," he said.

His position began to evolve during the campaign as he heard from many people, including his wife, Sarah, who supported a ban, he said.

Gomez first revealed his shift in an op-ed piece e that ran Wednesday in The Boston Globe's online edition.

He said he had come to believe that an assault weapons ban made common sense and would not be an affront to constitutional rights.

"It's not like I take the Constitution lightly. I don't think I'm going against the Second Amendment. I'm not taking our right away to get an assault weapon. I'm just saying if you want an assault weapon, join the Navy, go through SEAL training," he said.

Gomez insisted his decision to reveal his change of heart was not motivated by future political ambitions, and added that he expected to get "hammered" by the conservative wing of his party over the shift.

This article was originally published on September 25, 2013.

This program aired on September 25, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.