As a lifetime NRA member since before I could drive and EFM’s resident gun nut (here I am with my AK-47–yes, my AK-47, just ask David), I was very interested to see this e-mail from a reader:
One clear Southern value is the belief in personal responsibility for family protection. As such, an NRA rating is very important. Senator George Allen has a solid A rating from the NRA. Where does Governor Romney stand on Second Amendment issues?
One of the things you may have noticed about us here at EFM is that we like actions, not words. So let me point you to some pro-gun actions of Gov. Romney’s. Recalling that he hails from an outrageously liberal state, I think this amounts to a rather good record. Frankly, getting any pro-gun legislation through the approximately 85% liberal Democratic legislature with which he finds himself confronted is pretty awesome.
Action #1, as related by the NRA:
On July 26 [of this year], Governor Mitt Romney (R) signed H. 4552, which makes exemptions for the makers of customized target pistols, who, due to a provision within state law, have found it increasingly difficult to do business in Massachusetts. Prior to the signing of H. 4552, the law required firearm makers to test at least five examples of all new products “until destruction” in order to prevent accidental discharges. Since specialty target pistols typically sell in small numbers and at higher costs than regular firearms, manufacturers have found it cost prohibitive to sell them in Massachusetts. This common-sense change to the law will enable target pistol manufacturers to do business in the state and allow enthusiasts to practice their sport.
Governor Mitt Romney…signed legislation requiring all new hunters to take a hunter education course. The measure has the strong support of sportsmen and gun owners.
“It’s important that hunters understand the basic skills and responsibilities that will help them to enjoy the sport safely, and to foster an appreciation of hunting for new generations of young people,” said Governor Mitt Romney.
Until now, individuals with gun licenses–whether a License to Carry or a Firearm Identification card–have automatically been qualified to receive hunting licenses. The new law provides an exemption for individuals who held hunting licenses prior to January 1, 2007. With the bill’s signing, Massachusetts comes into line with the other 49 states that require hunters to take hunter safety courses.
“The Sportsmen in our state have a strong legacy of outdoor safety and etiquette in our communities,” said Senator Robert A. Antonioni (D-Leominster), chief sponsor of the legislation. “This bill ensures that this legacy will continue for the many aspiring sportsmen in our state. It puts the Commonwealth on par with the rest of the country.”
The legislation was originally proposed by the Worcester County League of Sportsmen, and it was supported by the Gun Owner’s Action League (GOAL).
“This legislation recognizes the skill and safety of those previously licensed hunters and goes forward to allow new hunters to gain valuable knowledge in safe hunting procedures and practices,” said Representative George N. Peterson Jr. (R-Grafton).
“We are pleased with the passage of yet another correction of Chapter 180 of the Acts of 1998, which created a confusing standard for acquiring a hunting, sporting or fishing license,” said James Wallace, GOAL’s executive director. “Prior to the passage of this law some eight years ago, hunter education was mandatory for all first time hunters. While GOAL does not normally support mandatory training, it is our belief that every first time hunter should be exposed to the ethics, safety aspects and laws in Massachusetts regarding hunting before taking to the field for the first time.”
And Action #3, an even more important clarification of existing laws, as related by Buckmasters. You will note that GOAL praised Gov. Romney here, too:
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney today signed legislation aimed at providing one clear definition of a loaded shotgun or rifle for the state’s hunting enthusiasts. For years, two competing definitions have existed on the books, leaving law abiding gun owners wondering when and how they can enter or cross a public way with their firearms.
“Today, we are simplifying the gun laws in Massachusetts,” Romney said. “With this legislation, our hunters will know precisely what is expected of them.”
By law, no person is permitted to carry a loaded rifle or shotgun on a public way, so hunters must unload their firearms if they encounter a roadway or other public thoroughfare while hunting.
Prior to today, a “loaded” shotgun or rifle was defined differently in two chapters of the Massachusetts General Laws. Chapter 131 said that a shotgun or rifle with its priming device in place was “loaded,” so simply removing the device prior to crossing a public way rendered firearms unloaded, inoperable and legal. Chapter 269 classified a “loaded” gun as one with “a shell or cartridge in either the magazine or chamber thereof, and in the case of a muzzle loading shotgun or rifle, containing powder in the flash pan or in the bore or chamber or containing a percussion cap and shot or ball.” Under this definition, lawful gun owners have had to remove the firearm’s priming device and clean out the powder or ball in the rifle’s barrel to cross a public way.
The law signed today harmonizes these two laws by eliminating the requirement in Chapter 269 that a hunter remove the powder or ball from the barrel of the rifle. Hunters now no longer face the lengthy, complex and unnecessary task of cleaning the barrel every time they encounter a public way, nor will they unknowingly violate the law by only removing a gun’s priming device.
“It is important that the gun statute remains consistent in our law books,” said Senator Stephen Brewer. “I filed this legislation to ensure that the definitions are correct and I am glad to see my bill being signed into law.”
“I applaud the effort of everyone involved to secure this long-overdue and common-sense fix to the statute,” said Representative George N. Peterson, Jr. “It is encouraging to see some positive action taken on behalf of the sportsmen and women of the Commonwealth.”
“On behalf of the lawful gun owners of the Commonwealth, I would like to thank Governor Romney and all who took part in the passage of this legislation. We have taken another important step in reforming the 1998 gun laws,” said Jim Wallace, Executive Director of the Gun Owner’s Action League. “This new law addresses a conflict that had previously caused great concern in those who use traditional muzzle loading rifles and shotguns. Now they confidently know what is expected of them and can enjoy their heritage without the fear of being prosecuted for violating a poorly written law.”
Not bad, I’d say.
To be clear, I know that Gov. Romney also signed a ban on so-called “assault weapons”–like my AK-47. That was wrong. However, we gun lovers would be fools to make opposition to such bans a litmus test for presidential candidates. Remember: George W. Bush, who won twice with our enthusiastic support, would have signed such a ban had it reached his desk. He deserved our support, and so does Gov. Romney. Opposing a ban on “assault weapons” is the principled position, as there is no such thing as an “assault weapon,” but it is not politically popular. Precious few people understand the issue. And it is a much better use of our time to educate people about it rather than opposing every politician who doesn’t get it–which is virtually all of them on the presidential level, sorry to say. For instance, somebody has apparently educated George Allen, the candidate our correspondent referenced as having an “A” rating from the NRA–he has flip-flopped on the issue (the right way).
As a political junkie, I know that no politician is perfect–and as a Christian, I know that no human is perfect, as David and I were saying about ourselves the other day. Gov. Romney isn’t perfect on guns. Nor is he perfect in any other way, quite frankly. He is human, as am I. But his record is a good one, and for a Massachusetts governor, it’s an outstanding one that encourages me greatly as to what he would do in a more hospitable environment. Which is one of the many reasons I enthusiastically support him and urge everyone else who can often be found toting both a Bible and a .357 to do the same.