As Republican presidential candidates vie for the GOP nomination, the field narrows and the remianing contenders will further define and differentiate themselves from each other on the issues. With gun violence last year involving Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords and the mass shootings by Jared Loughner that left six killed and 14 injured together with the tragedy at Chardon High School last week, the public conversation is turning to gun law legislation and where the candidates stand on gun control.
Romney’s views are murky and appear to have changed. In February he said, “find common ground with pro-gun and anti-gun groups. In the past he signed the nation’s first ban on assault weapons in Massachusetts as governor and increased gun owners fees by 400%. How does he propose to reconcile this with groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA), the most powerful gun lobby in the U.S.?
He proposes legislation that is crafted both by the pro-gun lobby and the anti-gun lobby. The pro-gun lobby said "this legislation allows us to cross roads with weapons when we're hunting that had not been previously allowed." And the day when we announced our signing, we had both the pro-gun owners and anti-gun folks all together on the stage because it worked. We worked together. We found common ground.
“My view is that we have the Second Amendment right to bear arms and my view is also that we should not add new legislation. I know that there are people that think we need new laws. I disagree with that. I believe we have in place all the laws we need. We should enforce those laws. I do not believe in new laws restricting gun ownership and gun use.”
In 2002 when he ran for governor, he supported a ban on assault rifles and the Brady Bill's five-day waiting period for gun purchases. He proudly said those positions wouldn't make him "the hero of the NRA." As governor, he made Massachusetts the first state to permanently ban assault weapons.
He has even flip-flopped about whether he owns any guns. In New Hampshire, he was asked his view on the Second Amendment. He responded that he had been a hunter "pretty much all my life." Later, red-faced aides of Romney had to admit that Romney had never had a hunting license, and under further questioning, Romney acknowledged that his "lifetime of hunting" was having shot at some birds during a Republican governors meeting during a fund-raising event and maybe shooting at "small varmints" when he was 17 with his cousin.
With these statistics it’s difficult to define and more importantly predict what Romney’s gun policies would be if he were elected president.
Gingrich believes that the Supreme Court has become a permanent constitutional convention in which the whims of five appointed lawyers have rewritten the meaning of the Constitution. And furthermore, anyone who thinks various Supreme Court decisions are not adequately worrisome need only look at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to see how domination by secular left-liberal judges will change America. He views the court decisions to be “out of step with the views of the vast majority of the American people.”
Let’s take a look at what the “vast majority of Americans” think. The facts do not support Gingrich’s statements. After the assault and mass shootings in Tucson, Ariz., last year, Americans remain split on the issue of gun control with the scale tipping to more controls, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.
The poll results revealed that 46 percent of Americans think gun laws should be made stricter, while 38 percent want them to stay the same. Thirteen percent said they thought gun control laws should be made less strict. In a similar poll conducted in April 2010, 40 percent of Americans thought gun laws should be made tougher, while 42 percent wanted them to stay the same. Sixteen percent wanted them to be made less strict.
Public support for a nationwide ban on assault weapons has risen. Sixty-three percent of voters said they would support such a ban, up from 54 percent in 2009.
Gingrich believes in the absolute right to gun ownership. While in Congress, Gingrich voted against the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act that was eventually enacted and required background checks for those purchasing firearms. Two years later he voted in favor of the Gun Free School Zone Act, which made it illegal to be in possession of a gun while in a school zone. The second was the Domestic Violence Offenders Act. This legislation made it illegal for anyone convicted of domestic violence to own a firearm
While running for the presidency, Gingrich has been very vocal in his support for Second Amendment rights. In a speech to the NRA, Gingrich stated that the Second Amendment was not put in the Constitution to affirm the people's right to vote, but rather to allow them to defend themselves from the government.
In December of 2011, Gingrich filled out the Gun Owners of American survey in which he took a pro-Second Amendment stance on all questions. This included stating he would support the repeal of the Domestic Violence legislation and the Gun Free School Zone Act. These are the two pieces of legislation that he was instrumental in passing in 1996.
With these astonishing statistics it’s anyone’s guess as to what his policies as president would be.
Santorum has the distinction of having a lifetime A+ rating with the NRA.
He did, however, vote in support of requiring trigger locks on handguns, and voted for background checks on firearm purchases made at gun shows.
Both of these positions are supported by the NRA and were initiated during the Clinton administration.
One of the reasons Santorum gets his A+ rating with the NRA is his voting against the ban on assault weapons. He described his vote with the NRA as follows, “they [NRA] supported, and worked with me to make sure that we'd not have something far worse pass. And so sometimes you have to pass something that can get enough votes to be able to satisfy folks that they won't pass something that's much worse. And so that's what you have to do to make sure that rights aren't taken away. I have a lifetime A-plus record with the NRA. They came to me repeatedly when I was in the Senate to help them and sponsor legislation and work toward making sure in ensuring gun rights.”
His voting record on gun legislation: No on banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers for gun violence; No on background checks at gun shows; Yes on loosening license and background checks at gun shows; Yes on maintaining current law; guns sold without trigger locks.
With these statistics Americans would definitely know what Santorum’s gun policies would be.
The people’s choice for the Republicans will ultimately be pitted against President Obama’s positions on gun control in November.
The president’s position is states and cities should be able to determine local gun laws; however the federal government has the right to increase state restrictions on gun purchases.
The president believes as a general principle, the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can’t constrain the exercise of that right, in the same way that we have a right to private property but local governments can establish zoning ordinances that determine how you can use it.
Registration and licensing of guns requires a common sense approach to guns ending up on our city streets. We can make sure that criminals don’t have guns in their hands. We can make certain that those who are mentally deranged are not getting a hold of handguns. We can trace guns that have been used in crimes to unscrupulous gun dealers who may be selling to straw purchasers and dumping them on the streets.
Principles of President Obama on gun issues: Stop unscrupulous gun dealers from dumping guns in the cities; ban the sale or transfer of all forms of semi automatic weapons; increase state restrictions on the purchase and possession firearms; require manufacturers to provide child safety locks with firearms. In the past he has been against prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers. This would make manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms and ammunition liable for damages resulting from the misuse of their products by others.