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Bill Richardson on Gun Control

Democratic Governor (NM); Secretary of Commerce-Designee


1993: Opposed Brady Bill in Congress

Richardson positions himself strongly as a man of the West--down to his cowboy boots and string tie. As part of this image, he promotes his support of gun ownership, which dates back to his opposition in Congress to the 1993 Brady Bill. When the National Rifle Association endorsed him in his second run for governor in 2006, Richardson joined them for the announcement at the NRA-sponsored National Police Shooting Championships, held, according to the group’s website, at “a new, state-of-the-art facility i Albuquerque’s Shooting Range Park, made possible with $1.4 million in funding and vigorous support from governor Bill Richardson.“ The NRA’s executive director reported that Richardson ”has treated us first class.“ Richardson, who supported a law allowin New Mexicans to carry concealed weapons, told an appreciative crowd that he had a concealed-carry permit himself. ”I an not packing today, though, because I have plenty of State Police officers here to protect me.“
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.187-188 Nov 11, 2007

No guns for mentally ill or those with criminal background

Q: You have one of the highest NRA ratings.

A: The issue here, I believe, is instant background checks. Nobody who has a criminal background or is mentally ill should be able to get a weapon. That is the key, and that includes gun sales. That includes gun sales at gun shows. The key is going to be also attacking poverty, dealing with those kids in the ghettos that are heavy users of gun violence and that are victims of gun violence, to make sure that this country attacks the core problems of poverty.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Attack poverty at the core of gun violence

Q: How would you address gun violence that continues to be the #1 cause of death among African-American men?

A: I believe the key to reducing gun violence, which is a scourge in our cities and all over America, is to have strong instant background checks, to keep guns away from those that shouldn’t have them, those with criminal backgrounds, those that have mentally ill problems. But the key in eliminating gun violence is eliminating poverty, eliminating hate. What I would do as president is I would dramatically increase the minimum wage. I would expand child care. I would expand the earned income tax credit. I would have programs in this country to deal with those that are incarcerated, rehabilitation, treatment, education. Gun violence is a scourge, but we have to attack the core and that is poverty.

Source: 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum Jul 12, 2007

Assault weapons ban did not work; despite his vote for ban

Q: On gun control, as a congressman, you said, “I voted to repeal the assault weapons ban because I should respect the wishes of my constituents. In this case, the strong majority favor repealing the ban. That doesn’t mean it’s the right vote.” You voted to ban assault weapons, then you voted to repeal it, because your constituents wanted it?

A: The crime bill, which put 100,000 cops on the street, took some of those initiatives. But I’m a gun owner & I’m a western governor. I believe the issue is not gun control. The issue is instant background checks.

Q: Why do hunters need Street Sweepers or Uzi machine guns?

A: The assault weapons ban did not work.

Q: As president, would you seek to ban assault weapons?

A: It didn’t work. What I would do is I would focus more of our efforts on, for instance, background checks with those with criminal backgrounds and the mentally ill. We have to tighten up those background checks. The problem is the states don’t have the database & the resources.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series May 27, 2007

Endorsed by NRA for governor; would accept endorsement again

Q: You received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association running for governor. Would you accept the endorsement of the NRA for president?

A: Yes, I would. I’m a gun owner. I am for reasonable controls --I don’t want to see Uzis when you’re hunting, obviously.

Q: But you wouldn’t ban them.

A: I’m a western governor. It’s a cultural issue. I am for strong law enforcement [but not a ban].

Q: Being the NRA’s man is not going to be popular in some Democratic primaries.

A: Gun control shouldn’t be a litmus test in the Democratic Party. I don’t change my positions to run for president.

Q: Well, you did on assault weapons [having voted for the assault weapon ban and then later for its repeal].

A: But that was a vote as part of an overall bill that President Clinton proposed [the assault weapon ban was part of a larger crime bill].

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series May 27, 2007

The 2nd Amendment is precious

Q: You are currently the NRA’s favorite presidential candidate declared in either party, based on their rating system. Did anything about the massacre at Virginia Tech make you rethink any part of your position on guns?

A: The first point I’d want to make is my sincerest condolences to the families of those loved ones that perished. It was an unspeakable tragedy. You’re right; I’m a Westerner. The 2nd Amendment is precious in the West. But I want to just state for the record, a vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding. This is an issue that deals with two fundamental problems in our system. The first is mental illness. We should ensure that all federal and state initiatives deal with making sure those with mental illnesses cannot get a gun. We should find ways to ensure that our schools get the help that they need to detect these mentally ill patients. Secondly, I’m for instant background checks. We have to make sure states are properly funded to be able to detect those problems.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Endorsed by NRA; has his own concealed carry permit

The National Rifle Association lent its endorsement this week to Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat. For governor. But as he mulls a run for president, Richardson’s history of close relations with the NRA could set him apart from other Democrats seeking the party’s bid.

As Richardson noted, he’s not the first Democrat to receive an NRA endorsement. “But there haven’t been very many,” he said. The NRA endorsement wasn’t the first time Richardson has garnered the group’s backing. “He’s been a pretty solid guy on the gun issue,” a member of the NRA’s board of directors said.

Whether that record could woo pro-Second Amendment voters into the Democratic fold in a national election is another question. The NRA endorsement cites Richardson’s support for a law that allows New Mexico residents to carry concealed handguns with a permit. Richardson said he has earned a concealed-carry permit himself.

Source: By Michael Gisick, Albuquerque Tribune Oct 3, 2006

We should ally with pro-gun recreationists in West

Richardson revels in his image as the quintessential Westerner. “You have to talk about guns in the context of lifestyle, recreation, a way of life,” the Governor argues, “rather than as just a measure to prevent murders and deaths. Democrats need to move into a void in the West. The Bush Administration is scaring off recreationists, hunters and fishermen because of their extreme anti-environmental policies. It’s important to build alliances with them, and not to make the gun issue a litmus test.”
Source: Sasha Abramsky, in The Nation, “Democrat Killer?” Apr 18, 2005

Other candidates on Gun Control: Bill Richardson on other issues:
Nominees:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010