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For many members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia, a political candidate’s stance on the Second Amendment is a critical litmus test. How can we trust a politician that doesn’t trust us to freely exercise our personal and collective right to bear arms? Not that we trust politicians, but gun rights is as good an indication of their basic idea of government as any. And so here’s a run down of the 2A views of the current crop of Republican presidential hopefuls . . .

From, the following summaries of 2nd Amendment positions are available for each candidate. More information about candidates’s views on gun control can be found at

Herman Cain

Cain follows the Republican party line and supports a citizen’s right to bear arms. Only not so much and not so well. In an interview with CNN (above), Cain turned his back on the Supreme Court’s McDonald decision incorporating the Second Amendment (make it trump local and state law). “[Gun control] should be a state’s decision.” Backpedalling and post-gaffe candidate briefing to follow.

Newt Gingrich

The Newtster says the Constitution guarantees every individual the right to own firearms. Better yet, Gingrinch seems to understand that gun control advocates look to kill that right in a “death by a thousand cuts” assault. New says Americans’ gu rights should not be “redefined by nitpicking.” Constitutional carry? Crickets chirping.

Refuting the liberal strategy is quite easy. Washington and New York have the most stringent gun-control laws in the nation. In both cities every crime committed with a gun is already illegal. In almost every case, the very possession of the gun is already illegal. If gun control worked, should New York and Washington be quiet, peaceful cities?

Ron Paul

Ron Paul’s a firm supporter of the Second Amendment. And how. He’s one of the few presidential candidates who’s openly discussed the role of the Second Amendment in keeping the federal government’s power in check. Anyone who says Americans should be able to carry a concealed weapon on a plane has street cred in the gun rights community. You can find Paul’s pro-gun rights views from the 2008 election at

Gary Johnson

The former governor of New Mexico says he believes in the right of citizens to bear arms. But he also says current gun control laws are “inadequate” and ripe for improvement. In other words, he’s looking to play it straight down the middle, just as Barack Obama did in his campaign for CIC.

PLAYBOY: Do you carry a gun?

JOHNSON: I don’t and I don’t own a gun, but I’d still just as soon have the concealed carry law. If the guy who is going to hold up a car knows there is the possibility of a concealed weapon, he may think twice. We don’t have that law here.

Tom Miller

Mr. Miller is a flight attendant with no prior political experience who wants to follow the founding fathers’ “original recipe.” His platform says nothing about one key ingredient: gun rights. At all. I wonder what he makes of Ron Paul’s belief that Americans should be able to pack heat on airplanes . . .

Tim Pawlenty

Pawlenty is another politician who fully and unconditionally supports the Second Amendment—with conditions. He thinks everyone should be able to exercise their right to keep and bear arms once they’ve been trained. He also believes in a “relentless and aggressive crack down on illegal gun ownership.” In other words, gun rights are shuffled to one side as he concentrates on looking tough on crime.

Mitt Romney

As he is with so many other issues, Romney is a gun rights flip-flopper. As Massachusetts Governor, Romney supported gun control: high capacity magazine and assault weapon bans, the infamous 10-pound MA trigger, a list of approved firearms, the works. As a senatorial candidate in ’94, Mitt was busy talking up the Brady bill.

In 2002, Romney re-upped his support for the state’s draconian gun laws. “We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts; I support them . . . I won’t chip away at them; I believe they protect us and provide for our safety.”

Now that he’s running for President (again), Romney has revealed “I have a gun of my own. I go hunting myself. I’m a member of the NRA and believe firmly in the right to bear arms.”

Romney continues to support a ban on assault weapons. “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.”

Clever guns eh?

Rick Santorum

Santorum talks a good game on gun control. Well, he appeared at this year’s NRA convention in Pittsburgh, where he spoke for 15 minutes (above, 329 views so far) and compared gun owners to the proverbial “canary in the mineshaft.” And then proceeded to say not-very-much about guns or gun rights or the Second Amendment. Make of that what you will.

Vern Wuensche

Although Wuensche is pro-2a (who’s against it anyway?), he says “those states which do not yet allow the right to carry a concealed weapon [should] be encouraged to do so.” That’s not very encouraging.

John Huntsman

Huntsman stopped by Riley’s Gun Shop, a familiar stop on the first-in-the-nation primary campaign trail, to talk to employees and check out the merchandise. After inspecting rifles on the wall, Huntsman said he was a hunter, and explained that though he had not hunted recently, he had been around guns “my entire life.”

Asked by POLITICO what he hunted, Huntsman took only a second to reply.

“Oh… large varmints,” Huntsman said with a smile.

It was a veiled swipe at Romney, who in 2008 struggled to explain his own relationship with hunting and guns — eventually acknowledging that his hunting was limited to “varmints.”

“Small” varmints, specifically.

Will the next president be pro-gun rights? Time will tell. Some 517 days to be exact.

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  1. Of these men, only Ron Paul believes in the right to keep and bear arms. He alone calls for NFA 34 and GCA 68 repeal. He alone would repeal George Bush I’s executive order banning the import of semi-automatic rifles.

    • Can you please cite your source for the statement that “[Ron Paul] alone calls for NFA 34 and GCA 68 repeal.” I find it hard to believe that any sane person – let alone a U.S. Senator – would call for the wholesale repeal of the NFA. After all, do you think its really a good idea for Wal-mart to be selling M-60s, RPG-7s, and M-68 frag grenades? I’ve been to a few countries where you can buy these types of weapons with relative impunity, and I can assure you that they are not very fun places to be hanging out.

      • Just what part of “Shall Not Be Infringed” do you not understand?

        The Second Amendment does not state … Shall Not Be Infringed… Except…
        IF your zip-code is x or the type or class of weapon you desire to own or carry is y or if you wish to carry said weapon openly or concealed…

        The Unabridged Second Amendment is the only way WE THE PEOPLE can remove or replace a tyrannical government; as Thomas Jefferson and other framers delineated…

        “The people never give up their liberties, but under some delusion.” – Edmund Burke

    • Alan Keyes, Bob Barr, Wayne Root, Duncan Hunter and Sarah Palin are also supporters of the Unabridged Second Amendment.

  2. Aah, politics. I would have a screening room, with a polygraph at one end and a gallows at the other. Maybe then we would finally see an honest politician.

    • “honest politician”?? That is an oxy moron lol… Every politician running for office knows that the country is listening when they are talking about the 2a and where they stand on gun control. I find it hard to see through all the cloak and dagger talk where they are actually going to be on the issue after the election. While 2a is a major issue for my family as well, I’m also interested in the stance they take on policing the world….. How can we have the misguided right to begin to try and tell another country how they should be when have our own problems. Just makes us look like fools…….

  3. Ok but those answers mean nothing.
    What laws that restrict the right to keep and bear arms will they help us repeal?
    What laws that will advance the right to keep and bear arms will they help us pass?

  4. When it comes to picking a President in 2012, gun rights supporters should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Protest voting (or not voting for a candidate) due to impurity on this issue is a fine strategy for congress or a state level position.
    But not for President.

    • I’ve cast my vote for the President this way every four years and the choices keep getting worse and worse and both parties keep running candidates that seem more similar as the years go on. Would McCain have been as worthless as Obama, not on the surface. One is progressive heavy, the other progressive light. I’m getting tired of having to hold my nose when I vote. I’ll look to a third party candidate if the R’s don’t have someone running that will actually change the course, not just slow it down.

    • Economist Patricia Funk (among many, many others), “A rational individual should abstain from voting.”

      I don’t think it matters on an individual basis if you vote for the candidate you actually want. Of course Colonel Sanders, the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Elvis are going to pick whichever one of their lackeys they prefer anyway, so it really doesn’t matter at all.

      • Not voting is what both parties want most Americans’ to do. More so on the right then the left. Just look at turn out for most elections. The right’s organized attempts to remove and restrict (fewer voting booths, purge the rolls of all smiths because J. Smith had a conviction) voting in area or district that they know will vote against them. It a flawed system but it is the best we have at the moment.

        I vote in all election and I look at the actionsof the person. Part of the mess we have now is because of voters being single issues voters. This leads them to vote against there own self-interest. I would use the last election as an example. The right won a lot of seats because of money issues yet HR 1 was a Bill with zero chance to become law to remove abortion funding, something that the Federal Government was and is forbidden to and not a plan or blueprint to solve the taxes and spending problem, why?

        • Even if you don’t believe the next president will be chosen at Bohemian Grove next July, in most states in the presidential election it is not necessary to vote for a major candidate. In a winner take all election ala the US presidential election, if your state is solid red or blue, you can vote for yourself for all it will matter, either Kodos or Kang are going to win no matter who you vote for. All of the state’s electoral votes will go to the candidate who won. Despite what Kang says, in that case there is no harm in voting for a protest candidate.

          None of this necessarily holds true in state and local, or any election where the results will be proportional, but the original post was about the presidential candidates.

  5. I’m 41 years old.

    My very first political memory is from when I was only four years old. It is Richard Nixon’s resignation speech on TV.

    I am not kidding.

    In fact, as Nixon finished his speech, a police car happened to drive past my family’s house at the time with sirens blaring and lights flashing. My father joked that the car was taking Nixon to jail, so I ran to the window thinking I would see the President of the United States riding in the back of the cop car and wearing cuffs.

    I’m very depressed to admit that I don’t feel like I’ve ever voted for anybody for President, ever.

    Every time I’ve voted for President, I’ve been voting against somebody else, not for the candidate I’ve voted for.

    Sad. Very sad. Looks like that won’t change in 2012, either.

  6. Perhaps the most sobering aspect of the candidates’ rhetoric is what it reveals about the attitudes of the electorate. These guys are telling us what they think we want to hear, and empirically, most of them believe that the typical voting american doesn’t care that that much about the second amendment. This (how shall I say it) sucks.

    • Probably true for all the candidates except Paul. Paul has shown he is not affraid to say what he thinks the people don’t want to hear. Case in point, I doubt most americans want to hear the people should be allowed to CC on planes. Paul believes it because he is more libertarian than Republican (which is why he will sadly never get the republican nod), he believes government should be limited to the constitution PERIOD.

      • He might not be Republican, but he’s republican — closer to a true American republican than anybody else in recent memory. Romney and all the other morons have absolutely no respect for constitutionally bound, limited republics, and it shows.

  7. Herman Cain did not flesh out his position on gun control very well. On the one hand, he says he “supports the Second Amendment” but then he says that states should be allowed to regulate guns – implying that he viewes this is an an issue of federalism. I am inferring from his statement that his “belief” in the Second Amendment is merely a rather unremarkable recognition in an individual right to bear arms (as opposed to a collective right – which would be defined as the right of a state to have an armed militia). Unfortunately, he leaves open the issue of what he believes to be the precise contours of the nature and extent of that “individual right.” And, as they say, the devil is in the details. Apparently, Cain believes that the States should be free to impose a full panoply of regulations – as their elected officials deem fit. Unfortunately, both the Heller and McDonald decisions – while helpful to “our” cause – leave open the possibility that the Court would find a wide variety of gun control measures to be constitutional, and therefore do not really safeguard the “individual right” in any way that makes gun owners feel secure. For example, issues such as assault weapon bans and high-cap magazine bans seem to still be “on the table” from a constitutional standpoint. Hopefully, Mr. Cain will refine his position as he moves forward with his campaign. Its too bad Newt has so much baggage, – as he appears to have the greatest depth of knowledge on these types of policy issues.

  8. “Romney has revealed “I have a gun of my own. I go hunting myself. ”

    Yeah? What model of gun is it, Mitt, you RINO?

    Ron Paul is right there for you to vote for, folks. Smaller government, gun rights, wants to end the disastrous war on drugs and leave drug laws up to the states, audit The Fed, not a war monger, and even delivers cute babies at his other job.

    If you don’t vote for Ron Paul, then I don’t want to hear any complaining during the next four years when you whine about how things are still the same and how government is run by idiots.

  9. You guys can’t find a legitimate mainstream candidate who supports your position on the Second Amendment because it’s not a legitimate mainstream position. You’re extremists.

    • The Supreme Court disagrees with you, as did the Founders, as do the inhabitants of 75% of the states and the legislators they elected to represent them.

      • The two recent Supreme Court decisions reveal that the court is trying to draw a balance between individual right to ownership and government regulation of firearms. District of Columbia v. Heller 554 U.S. 570 (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. ___, 130 S.Ct. 3020 (2010). For example, in Heller, the Supreme Court clearly stated the following:

        Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

        We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. [The] Miller [case] said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”

        It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service-M-16 rifles and the like-may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.

    • What a sad state of affairs that you note there magoo. You are right; our government has convinced so many of us to abandon the Constitution that set this great nation apart to the point that believing in part of the constitution is no longer legitimate mainstream practice, but is as you note extremist.

      I mean it is clear what the second amendment says, but apparently if we don’t agree to read it “the new way” we are extremists and out of touch with the legitimate mainstream.

      Well, by golly, those brave founding fathers that penned that great document were also labeled extremists out of touch with the legitimate mainstream. So I accept your label of extremist, and I wear it with pride. I would rather be counted with the ranks of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Sam Adams, and the other extremists of their caliber; then be noticed mingling with the legitimate mainstream like magoo, mikey90210, Obama, and that ilk.

  10. Jon Huntsman was on the Hugh Hewitt radio program yesterday, Wednesday, the link is here:
    Hugh asked him if he would veto an assault weapons ban and Huntsman said “No.” He later emailed Hewitt to correct his answer and say he would veto an assault weapons ban.
    Personally, I’d prefer Rick Perry, who is not yet in the race, and may yet decide to not run. He regularly jogs with his dog and carries a handgun. It was once reported that he shot and killed a coyote for attacking his dog while he was jogging. What we need, a prepared President who is not afraid to take armed, aggressive action against a threat.
    My mind is not made up yet, and Second Amendment rights are a major factor in my decision. That said, I WILL vote for the Republican candidate over Obama, as we MUST get rid of this very serious threat to all of our Liberties.

    • I never believed that Rick Perry shooting a coyote story. We only have his word on it. Even so, he seems like a solid gun rights guy.

  11. I can say from personal knowledge, what Ron Paul says today about guns is what he said 30 years ago. He’s been a libertarian all the time I’ve known him, and he’s consistent in his thoughts and speech.

    People who worry about “mainstream” are the people who stood on the side during the Revolutionary War, or supported the Tories.

    I’d like to remind everyone that there is no such thing as good enough when it comes to freedom. You are either free or not free. It doesn’t matter how much “not” is there, since the politicians can always “fix” that.

  12. “Now that he’s running for President (again), Romney has revealed “I have a gun of my own. I go hunting myself. ”

    That’s right up there with “Why, some of my best friends are black/hispanic/Jewish etc.”

    • Hahahaha. Nice. Some of my best friends are .38s.
      Rum-knee is such a transparent, superficial dolt. Folks should understand the simple algebraic formula, Party Affiliation + State of Residence = THE ANSWER (99% accurate).
      So: R + MASS = Dem Lite. Ann Coulter’s boyfriend, C. Christy, is
      R + JOIZEY = Dem Lite.
      Where’s the EASY button?

  13. Some great comments here. Utterly sad how America has changed so much in as little as fifty years, and where it’s finally headed there will be no return.

  14. The roster of the Republican candidates reads like the roster of the Seven Dwarves plus Ron Paul and a couple of dolts named Joe. These guys are going to beat Obama? Not a chance. And as for POTUS, my personal read on him is that post-Obamacare he’s become more pragmatic than “progressive. ” He seems to be controlling the tax-and-spend morons in his own party and he’s on Move-On’s shitlist, at least for the moment. As far as 2A is concerned, POTUS hasn’t been the monster that we expected. So, while there may be a difference in rhetoric between POTUS and the Seven Dwarves, there may not be much of a difference in kind. As for Ron Paul, the guy is an ace, but he’s completely unelectable.

    • Regarding Obama, I don’t think you can breathe a sigh of relief just yet. Gun Control has become a “second term” agenda item due to its potential for political backlash (think: 1994 mid terms). Democrats are holding their cards back for now, but if Obama gets that second term, it is widely expected that gun control will again be on the table. In particular, the AWB and its little cousin, the high-cap mag ban, are at the top of the wish list for the gun-grabber crowd. Also, there is a fair amount of momentum behind the push to end the so-called “gun show loophole” (undocumented sales of firearms between non-FFL holding members of the public). Unfortunately, a few more high-profile Litteton /Gifford incidents could shift the political winds even farther to the left on this issue.

  15. Uhh, WHERE IS MICHELLE BACHMAN? And as YankeeFan notes, Perry is missing. And where is the girl non-candidate who scares the boys with her real, not imaginary machismo, Sarah Palin?

    • This thread appears dead Mr. 23. Or at least dormant for a sufficient length of time that whatever whomever may have said or implied has probably changed by now. Most probably several times.

      It doesn’t matter anyway. I hear the Republican leadership in DC along with our good friends in the “mainstream” media have already decided that Romney is our candidate of choice, period. That’s really nice of them, saving us the time and trouble of coming up with our own choice, don’t you think?
      As Albert Gore once said “The debate is over.” But is it though?

  16. Ron Paul voted twice — along with anti-gun colleagues Mike Castle and Chris Shays — against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, enacted into law in 2005, which prohibits bogus lawsuits against the firearms industry trying to bankrupt them by holding them civilly liable for the criminal misuse of firearms by others (H.R. 1036 in the 108th Congress and S. 397 in the 109th Congress).

    He was one of only two congressmen who signed the pro-gun congressional amicus brief in the Heller case but not in the McDonald case — both were landmark Second Amendment cases decided by 5-4 votes in the U.S. Supreme Court. The issue in the McDonald case determined whether our Right to Keep and Bear Arms protection applied in the states.

    Finally, Ron Paul was AWOL for the recent vote on the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 822 in the 112th Congress) and has not stated how he would have voted if not absent. Where does he stand on National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity?

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