With all the talk about how certain Republican presidential contenders are being tripped up by the abortion issue, there's been a relative lack of attention to another potential source of primary trouble for several of those in the GOP field: gun voters.
This year, Romney has been portraying himself as a staunch Second Amendment advocate. But when he was interviewed by Glenn and Helen Reynolds, he displayed little understanding of the Second Amendment and had difficulty articulation anything more than platitudes and slogans.And others in the field fare no better: Giuliani's record is well known, while Newt Gingrich "endorsed banning some guns and showed that he doesn’t know much about them." Mike Huckabee gets praise, but Kopel suggests that Democrat Bill Richardson might actually be one of the best choices for NRA types:
As a U.S. representative and as governor, he compiled an impeccable record. Unlike Governor Romney, Governor Richardson took a leading role in promoting pro-rights reforms. The most significant of Richardson’s successes was "shall issue" concealed-carry licensing, so that adults who pass a background check and a safety class can obtain a permit to carry a handgun for lawful protection. His record contrasts with that of former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, who signed a good bill which prohibited local gun bans, but who opposed "shall issue" and prevented it from becoming law in Wisconsin.Richardson, of course, won't get the nomination, even though he's a great candidate. But the gun question is yet another manifestation of the right's nausea over the GOP presidential field.
If the Republicans nominated Giuliani and the Democrats Richardson, the NRA would be crazy not to support Richardson with everything in its political arsenal. More generally, as the New York Sun reported on April 5, "the thinking within the organization is that it would eagerly endorse a consistently pro-gun Democrat over a Republican who has been inconsistent in protecting Second Amendment rights."