Romney's NRA speech comes amid new focus on gun laws
April 13th, 2012
10:34 AM ET
10 years ago

Romney's NRA speech comes amid new focus on gun laws

(CNN) – America's gun laws, brought into sharp relief this spring after the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager in Florida, will be the focus of likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney Friday at the annual meeting of the powerful National Rifle Association.

Romney, who is slated to address the gathering along with long shot candidate Newt Gingrich and former Republican hopeful Rick Santorum, will be tasked with convincing guns rights activists that his moderate record on the gun control in the past isn't reflective of his current positions.

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During his 1994 bid for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, Romney asserted his positions "don't line up with the NRA," a stance likely meant to appeal to the Bay State's moderate Democrats who could have helped him defeat Sen. Edward Kennedy.

During a 2007 appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Romney modified his stance somewhat, saying "I support the work of the NRA. I'm a member of the NRA. But do we line up on every issue? No, we don't."

As governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a 2004 extension of a ban on assault weapons, at the time saying "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."

Later in his term, Romney took a friendlier stance on guns, enacting a statewide "Right to Bear Arms Day." In 2006, ahead of his bid for the 2008 Republican nomination, he became a lifelong member of the NRA. During that election, he remarked that he sometimes hunts "small varmints."

This time around, Romney has largely avoided any major gun-related gaffes. He said in February "I believe in the second amendment, I'll protect the second amendment, I have guns myself." His campaign later said the candidate owns two guns, but didn't specific which types.

On his campaign website, Romney's platform is spelled out without mentioning any specific proposals for new legislation.

"Mitt will enforce the laws already on the books and punish, to the fullest extent of the law, criminals who misuse firearms to commit crimes," the website reads. "But he does not support adding more laws and regulations that do nothing more than burden law-abiding citizens while being ignored by criminals."

Romney's appearance comes after a relatively quiet period of gun related legislation at the federal level.

Despite several high profile gun incidents during in his presidency, including the Martin shooting and a massacre in Tucson, Arizona that left former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords seriously injured and six others dead, President Barack Obama has done relatively little in terms of advancing restrictions on gun ownership.

Several months after the Tucson shooting, Obama published an editorial in the Arizona Daily Star asserting "our focus right now should be on sound and effective steps that will actually keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place."

However, the White House did little beyond the editorial to advance new gun laws.

More recently, the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed seventeen-year-old in Sanford, Florida, has reignited a debate about gun ownership in America. Martin was shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who was arrested and charged Wednesday with second degree murder.

Authorities originally said they could not arrest Zimmerman under Florida's "stand your ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force to defend themselves anywhere they feel a reasonable fear of death or serious injury.

The NRA, along with the American Legislative Executive Council, worked to enact the "stand your ground" law in Florida, and was active in getting the measure on the books in 25 other states.

The organization hasn't publicly commented about the Martin case and the use of the "stand your ground" provision.

Obama made starkly personal comments about the case in March, saying "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon." He also said laws, including the "stand your ground" provision, needed to be reexamined.

Filed under: Gun rights • Mitt Romney • NRA
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens has hunted varmints, and that has to excite the gun lobby.

    April 13, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    The NRA could care less about the personal safety of its' members. Every policy they have supported has one underlying theme. Sell more guns and ammo. Period. Never once has the NRA supported anything having to do with gun safety. Never.

    April 13, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Let me guess, Mittens and cartoon character Pepe LaPierre will tell the gun lovers that Obama will take away their guns if he is reelected. After all, the president has said no such thing.

    April 13, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    I guess now that he is the Heir Apparent of the Republican Party, instead of the Heir Presumptive, he can now use the phrase "Evolving Opinions" to describe how he has changed his views, instead of being labeled "Flip-Flop". It will be interesting to see what kind of Pledge to the NRA Willard agrees to in order to get their endorsement.

    April 13, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  5. Myviewis

    Both guns and liquor kill. The Right to Bear Arms equals Drinking and Driving, both are just as dangerous except I don't see anyone protesting, campaigning to make illegal, get rid of liquor, alcohol because liquor, alcohol makes us feel good and a gun does not make us feel good. If liquor stays then so should the right to own a gun. People can use a gun responsibly and people can drink liquor, alcohol responsibly or not responsibly, it all depends on the individual. And these days Text Messaging is starting to be as dangerous as drinking and driving and guns.

    April 13, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. Dan5404

    Again, pretend you are a right-wing conservative, but don't mention the ridiculous "Stand your ground" law because it tends to tell you what the NRA is about...forcing guns on America and trying to weaken or pre-empt.any laws about using them, which already protect law-abiding citizens.

    April 13, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Romney ... will be tasked with convincing guns rights activists that his moderate record on the gun control in the past isn't reflective of his current positions."

    "Etch A Sketch ... don't leave home without it". (I am Mitt Romney and I approve this message.)

    April 13, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  8. Bingham

    The castle doctrine in my state has done a lot of good in combatting evil. Sure bad people get shot but don't break into homes and you won't get killed or hurt. I have a conceal to carry license but hardly every carry a gun as it is such a big responsibility but I do want the ability to protect my family. Don't think for a second that it is not a deterrent to criminals when they know there is at least a 50% chance that a person has a gun and will use it. Of my four closest neighbors three of them all have some kind of gun for home protection and that is not going to change.

    April 13, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  9. judy

    What they mean is he flip flopped again. Nothing new there. Come on romney doesn't care about guns. He doesn't hunt. Give us a break . He says what ever he thinks you want to here. Again with the gun stuff. NRa tried using this last election President has nevert mentioned guns but repos will try scaring the rednecks into thinking their guns are being taken away. Obama 2012 Move forward

    April 13, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  10. sonny chapman

    Every State Legislature should enact laws that all of it's "Good" Citizens MUST own 10 guns w/30 round clips. That'll keep el Qida out of this Land of the Free & Brave.

    April 13, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  11. J. Olver

    Another politician kissing the butt of the NRA.

    April 13, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  12. Al-NY,NY

    "My views don't line up with the NRA" He passes tough guns laws. epiphany (shake shake shake the Etch-a Sketch)...."I LOVE guns. No restrictions. Buy a pistol at a gun show? No problem. You want that AK-47? You're gonna use it to hunt squirrels?....Cool!" "HI everyone! I brought my Uzi with me today to show I'm one of you. You gotta love Charlton Heston don't you? He was a real american who stood up for our rights"...blah blah blah goes the finger in the wind candidate who can't make up his mind even to the extent of what color magic underwear he'll wear each day

    April 13, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  13. Joi Gibson

    This ought to be marvelous. Can't wait to hear how Willard panders to this crowd. I live in South Florida and quite frankly am sick of the NRA getting their wishes into our laws, yet we the people seem to have no say. Don't even get me started about Governor Lurch.


    April 13, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |