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President's Column

By David A. Keene, President

A Friend To The NRA

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the Republican Party’s presidential nominee and the one man capable of denying President Barack Obama another four years in the White House. Anyone who looked at the Second Amendment records of those vying for the right to face Barack Obama this fall knew that every one of the GOP hopefuls could be considered a friend of America’s gun owners and sportsmen. As a result, we at NRA knew that we could get behind whoever emerged victorious—and we were right!

Mitt Romney didn’t serve as governor of Arizona, Wyoming or Virginia, but of Massachusetts. While he was governor, anti-gun Democrats controlled two thirds of both chambers of the state legislature and were in a position to block anything and everything they didn’t like.

But gun owners in Massachusetts fared well under Mitt Romney. Jim Wallace, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League (GOAL), and an NRA committee member, says that under Romney his organization had more access to the governor and his senior level staff than under any governor in something like a quarter of a century. He notes, as do Romney’s chief advisors, they established relationships that worked well during Romney’s tenure, and looks back on that bond with admiration.

Without equivocation, Wallace says that during Romney’s administration “no anti-Second Amendment or anti-sportsmen legislation made it to the governor’s desk and the governor managed to sign five pro-Second Amendment/pro-sportsmen bills into law.” That, says Wallace, must be considered an extraordinary achievement given the political realities of Massachusetts.

It has been observed that “politics ain’t bean bag” and when campaigns heat up, truth can lose out to exaggeration or worse. But some attacks on Gov. Romney during the GOP primaries struck those familiar with his record on gun and hunting issues as truly over the top. When Gov. Romney signed a 2004 bill titled “An Act Further Regulating Certain Weapons,” his critics erroneously cited this legislation as an assault weapons ban. As GOAL notes, with Massachusetts’ politics the titles of legislation do not always reflect the content, meaning this proposal was actually a pro-Second Amendment bill that began the process of reforming the state’s gun laws. Wallace points out that its passage represented a victory rather than a defeat for the state’s gun owners, “It was a reform bill totally supported by GOAL. Press and media stories around the country got it completely wrong in claiming the bill was an extension of the ‘assault weapon’ ban that had sunset at the federal level. They could not have been more wrong.”

Among other reforms, the bill reinstated a 90-day grace period for citizens who were trying to renew their state-mandated firearm licenses at a time when government agencies were falling behind in extending license renewals and it extended the term of licenses from four to six years. It also established a Firearm License Review Board that could review cases in which a misdemeanor conviction resulted in a prohibition on the ownership of a handgun for life, and long guns for a minimum of five years. This board was empowered to review cases and restore licenses where warranted. The full story of this bill and others can be found posted on the GOAL website and is worth a close look by anyone who has questions about the Romney record on guns (www.goal.org).

During his speech at NRA’s 2012 Annual Meetings, Romney, an NRA Life member, championed the U.S. Constitution. Romney commended the NRA for calling for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder, who continued to be defiant before Congress’ demand for answers in the so-called “Fast and Furious” scandal. “I will protect the Second Amendment rights of the American people,” Romney declared, adding, “Let’s take back our nation and defend our freedoms!”

Romney went on to praise NRA and its membership, saying, “This organization is sometimes called a ‘single issue group’ and that is high praise when the single issue you’re fighting for is freedom. And you can be proud of your long and unwavering defense of constitutional rights and liberty.”

ILA Executive Director Chris Cox interviewed Romney for this issue of the magazine and shares the view that we have an opportunity to vote for a presidential candidate who knows deep in his bones that anyone who swears to uphold the Constitution is pledging to support the Second Amendment.

The choice is clear: if President Obama wins a second term in November, he will go after America’s gun owners, our freedoms and the values we cherish. With Mitt Romney’s commitment to those values and our rights, we can go “ALL IN” to elect a leader we will be proud to call our president.