Mitt Romney on Gun Control

Former Republican Governor (MA); presidential nominee-apparent

No new gun legislation; enforce the existing laws

Q: [to Obama]: In 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.

OBAMA: I believe in the Second Amendment. But weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don't belong on our streets. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence.

ROMNEY: Yeah, I'm not in favor of new pieces of legislation on guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal. We of course don't want to have automatic weapons, and that's already illegal in this country, to have automatic weapons. What I believe is we have to do is to make enormous efforts to enforce the gun laws that we have and to change the culture of violence we have. And you ask, how are we going to do that? Good schools, to give people the hope and opportunity they deserve, and perhaps less violence from that. But let me mention another thing. And that is parents. We need moms and dads helping raise kids.

Source: Second Obama-Romney 2012 debate , Oct 16, 2012

Fully investigate "Fast and Furious" program

ROMNEY: The greatest failure we've had with regards to gun violence, in some respects, is what is known as Fast and Furious, which was a program under this administration. And how it worked, we don't know precisely, but thousands of automatic and AK-47-type weapons were given to people that ultimately gave them to drug lords. They used those weapons against their own citizens and killed Americans with them. And this was a program of the government. For what purpose it was put in place, I can't imagine. But it's one of the great tragedies related to violence in our society which has occurred during this administration, which I think the American people would like to understand fully. It's been investigated to a degree, but the administration has carried out executive privilege to prevent all of the information from coming out. I'd like to understand who it was that did this, what the idea was behind it, why it led to the violence, thousands of guns going to Mexican drug lords.
Source: Second Obama-Romney 2012 debate , Oct 16, 2012

Newt Gingrich's gun, crime & drug issues compared to Mitt's

Is Newt Gingrich the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney in the GOP primary? If you'd like to say Yes, you'd better focus on domestic issues like those listed below. OnTheIssues' paperback book explores how Mitt's domestic issue stances differ from Newt's, and where they are similar. Newt & Mitt do disagree on some issues in this list, such as gun control and space policy, but they also agree on most of these others:
Source: Paperback: Mitt vs. Newt On The Issues , Feb 3, 2012

1994: backed 5-day waiting period on gun sales

In 1994 Romney pushed some reliably Republican themes, including requiring welfare recipients to work, cracking down on crime, and creating private-sector jobs. But he often strayed from the party plank as he sought to broaden his base of support. He backed two gun-control measures that were strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association: the Brady Law, which imposed a five-day waiting period on gun sales, and a ban on certain assault weapons, saying, "I think they will help."
Source: The Real Romney, by Kranish & Helman, p.185 , Jan 17, 2012

Find common ground with pro-gun & anti-gun groups

Q: You signed the nation's first ban on assault weapons in Massachusetts and steeply increased fees on gun owners by 400%. How can you convince gun owners that you will be an advocate for them?

ROMNEY: We had a piece of legislation that was 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.

Source: Fox News debate on MLK Day in Myrtle Beach, SC , Jan 16, 2012

2002: I will not chip away at MA's tough gun laws

In 1994 Romney had supported firearms-control measures opposed by the National Rifle Association: the so-called Brady Bill, which restricted the sale of handguns, and the assault weapons ban. During the 1994 senatorial campaign he had taunted: "That's not going to make me the hero of the NRA." He reinforced his support for these measures when he ran for governor in 2002, when he promised not to chip away at the Commonwealth's tough gun laws. Now as a presidential candidate, Romney presented himself disingenuously as a lifetime member of the NRA and a hunter of "varmints," which prompted the acerbic Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi to write: "Leave it to Mitt Romney to shoot himself in the foot with a gun he doesn't own."
Source: An Inside Look, by R.B.Scott, p.144-145 , Nov 22, 2011

2008: "Lifelong" devotion to hunting meant "small varmints"

Romney's efforts to get right with the right landed him in trouble. Running against Ted Kennedy for the Senate in 1994, he declared, "I don't line up with the NRA" on gun control. By 2008, Romney had reversed himself on his [and other issues], which quickly gave rise to charges of hypocrisy and opportunism. A YouTube video began making the rounds that captured him firmly stating his liberalish social views, comically juxtaposing them with his newly adopted arch-conservative stances. From then on, th flip-flopper label was firmly affixed to Mitt's forehead.

Oh, and also the one about this "lifelong" devotion to hunting, which turned out to mean he'd done it twice. "I'm not a big-game hunter," Romney said, then explained that his preferred prey were rodents, rabbits, and such--"small varmints, if you will."

He couldn't fathom why the caricature of him was sticking. When Romney's staff showed him the devastating YouTube video, his first reaction was ,"Boy, look how young I was back then."

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p.293-295 , Jan 11, 2010

2002: My positions won't make me the hero of the NRA

Mitt Romney. When he ran for the Senate and 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 seventeen with his cousin.
Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p. 17-18 , Nov 18, 2008

GovWatch: 1994: did not “line up with the NRA”

Top Romney Flip Flops: #3. Gun Control:

Campaigning for the Senate in 1994, Romney said he favored strong gun laws and did not “line up with the NRA.” He signed up for “lifetime membership” of the NRA in August 2006 while pondering a presidential run, praising the group for “doing good things” and “supporting the right to bear arms.”

Source: GovWatch on 2008 campaign: “Top Ten Flip-Flops” , Feb 5, 2008

Support the 2nd Amendment AND the assault weapon ban

I do support the Second Amendment. I would have signed the assault weapon ban that came to his desk. I said I would have supported that and signed a similar bill in our state. It was a bill worked out, by the way, between pro-gun lobby and anti-gun lobby individuals. Both sides of the issue came together and found a way to provide relaxation in licensing requirements and allow more people to--to have guns for their own legal purposes. So we signed that in Massachusetts, and I’d support that at the federal level. It did not pass at the federal level. I do not believe we need new legislation. I do not support any new legislation of an assault weapon ban nature, including that against semiautomatic weapons. We have laws in place that, if they’re implemented & enforced, will provide the protection and the safety of the American people. I do support the right of individuals to bear arms, whether for hunting purposes or for protection purposes or any other reasons. That’s the right that people have
Source: 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida , Jan 24, 2008

I support the work of the NRA, but disagree sometimes

We should check on the backgrounds of people who are trying to purchase guns. We also should keep weapons of unusual lethality from being on the street. And finally, we should go after people who use guns in the commission of crimes or illegally, but we should not interfere with the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns, for their own personal protection or hunting or any other lawful purpose. 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.
Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Dec 16, 2007

Ok to ban lethal weapons that threaten police

Q: Are you still for the Brady Bill?

A: The Brady Bill has changed over time, and, of course, technology has changed over time. I would have supported the original assault weapon ban. I signed an assault weapon ban as Massachusetts governor because it provided for a relaxation of licensing requirements for gun owners in Massachusetts, which was a big plus. And so both the pro-gun and the anti-gun lobby came together with a bill, and I signed that. And if there is determined to be, from time to time, a weapon of such lethality that it poses a grave risk to our law enforcement personnel, that’s something I would consider signing. There’s nothing of that nature that’s being proposed today in Washington. But I would look at weapons that pose extraordinary lethality.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Dec 16, 2007

Compromise MA gun bills were net gain for gun owner

During Romney’s term he signed several pieces of firearms regulation. A look at that regulation does not reveal an anti-gun Romney. Those bills are characterized as “net gains” for gun owners in a state where opinioned is weighed against them.

During his tenure, Gov. Romney was credited with several improvements to state laws, including protections for shooting clubs, restoration of the Inland Fish and Game Fund, and requirements that all new hunters pass a hunter safety course. He is also credited with relaxing manufacturing testing for some models of pistols.

In 2004, Gov. Romney signed a firearms reform bill that made permanent the ban on assault weapons as well as clarified and insured other rights and responsibilities for gun owners. It was a hard-fought compromise between interest groups on both sides of the issue. The NRA Gun Owners’ Action League, law enforcement, and Massachusetts gun owners endorsed the bill.

Source: The Man, His Values, & His Vision, p. 72-73 , Aug 31, 2007

Supports Second Amendment rights but also assault weapon ban

Q: As governor you signed into law one of the toughest restrictions on assault weapons in the country.

A: Let’s get the record straight. First of all, there’s no question that I support 2nd Amendment rights, but I also support an assault weapon ban. Look, I’ve been governor in a pretty tough state. You’ve heard of blue states. In the toughest of blue states, I made the toughest decisions and did what was right for America. I have conservative values.

Source: 2007 Republican Debate in South Carolina , May 15, 2007

Will support assault weapons bill and Brady Bill

The candidate reiterated his support for an assault weapons ban contained in Congress’ crime bill, and the Brady law which imposes a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases. ‘I don’t think (the waiting period) will have a massive effect on crime but I think it will have a positive effect,’ Romney said.
Source: Joe Battenfeld in Boston Herald , Aug 1, 1994

Other candidates on Gun Control: Mitt Romney on other issues:
Pres.Barack Obama
V.P.Joe Biden
GOP Candidates:
Gov.Mitt Romney(MA)
Rep.Paul Ryan(WI)
Third Party Candidates:
Mayor Rocky Anderson(J)
Roseanne Barr(PF)
Rep.Virgil Goode(C)
Gov.Gary Johnson(L)
Jill Stein(G)

GOP Withdrawals:
Rep.Michele Bachmann(MN)
Herman Cain(GA)
Rep.Newt Gingrich(GA)
Gov.Jon Huntsman(UT)
Gov.Sarah Palin(AK)
Rep.Ron Paul(TX)
Gov.Tim Pawlenty(MN)
Gov.Rick Perry(TX)
Gov.Buddy Roemer(LA)
Sen.Rick Santorum(PA)
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Page last updated: Oct 22, 2012