NRA News is deliberately misleading its supporters about Mitt Romney's firearms policies while he served as governor of Massachusetts. During the October 2 edition of Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards suggested that any action taken by then-Governor Romney on assault weapons was supported by Massachusetts state gun rights group Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) and further stated that Romney “actually undid some of the damage” of the commonwealth's 1998 assault weapons ban. In fact, legislation signed by Romney in 2004 made the Massachusetts assault weapons ban permanent.
A July 1, 2004 press release issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, titled, “Romney Signs Off On Permanent Assault Weapons Ban,” leaves little doubt that the former Massachusetts governor was involved in restricting access to assault weapons. Indeed, at the bill's signing ceremony Romney stated that the “sole purpose” of assault weapons is “hunting down and killing people.” In response to the new law, GOAL stated that the Romney administration “took a major shot at lawful gun owners and showed their true colors.”
CAM EDWARDS, HOST: Doc in Jacksonville, Florida says, “Cam, due to the fact that Mitt Romney signed a gun ban into law while he was governor of Massachusetts, does the NRA trust him to stand up for the Constitution and Second Amendment as president?” You know, I'm glad you asked this question, Doc. Last time -- I've got to promote this video because we've got it up I know on our YouTube page -- the last time we had Jim Wallace from the Gun Owners Action League in studio, that's the state-level organization in Massachusetts, we asked him about this. Because Mitt Romney did sign a bill as Governor of Massachusetts, but he did not institute an assault weapons ban. This was actually a bill that the Gun Owners Action League in Massachusetts supported. The quote unquote assault weapons bill, or excuse me the quote unquote assault weapons ban, was already law in Massachusetts. It was already permanent in Massachusetts. This bill actually provided some relief to gun owners in the state of Massachusetts. It was portrayed and it has been portrayed in the media as Governor Romney signed a bill to ban quote unquote assault weapons in the state of Massachusetts. But that's not the case. This was a bill, as I said, that was supported by the state gun owners' organization in Massachusetts because it actually undid some of the damage of that original legislation.
From the press release announcing the signing into law of “An Act Furthering Regulating Certain Weapons” by Governor Romney:
“Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts,” Romney said, at a bill signing ceremony with legislators, sportsmen's groups and gun safety advocates. “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.”
“We are pleased to mark an important victory in the fight against crime,” said Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey. “The most important job of state government is ensuring public safety. Governor Romney and I are determined to do whatever it takes to stop the flood of dangerous weapons into our cities and towns and to make Massachusetts safer for law-abiding citizens.”
While GOAL did support reforms to Massachusetts' gun licensing scheme contained in the legislation, the group was outraged by Romney's position on assault weapons.
In a July 2, 2004 GOAL press release titled, “Firearm Reform Bill Signed, Romney Takes Opportunity to Betray Gun Owners,” the organization expressed dismay that Romney took a position on assault weapons that echoed that of gun violence prevention stalwarts Sens. Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.
On July 1, 2004 , Governor Mitt Romney signed into law one of the greatest of reforms to Massachusetts gun laws in recent history. In what should have been a day of celebration for GOAL and its members, the Romney administration took a major shot at lawful gun owners and showed their true colors.
Governor Romney then took the podium to make a few remarks before signing the bill. Although the Governor did make mention of being a “sportsman” and the reforms in the bill that would help other sportsmen, he spun the bill as a ban.
“Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts ,” Romney said. “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.”
When asked by a reporter if he supported the renewal of the federal “assault weapons” ban and if he had spoken to the senators about it, Governor Romney replied that it was not really his job to lobby on federal legislation, but that he shared Senator Kerry's and Senator Kennedy's position on the issue!
Edward's claim that a permanent assault weapon ban already existed in Massachusetts in 2004 -- a talking point that appeared in GOAL's 2004 press release -- is also false. In reality, the legislation updated Massachusetts' assault weapon ban, which mirrored the federal assault weapons ban, to ensure that state law continued to ban assault weapons even after the federal ban expired at the end of 2004.
As Romney's press release explains:
Like the federal assault weapons ban, the state ban, put in place in 1998, was scheduled to expire in September. The new law ensures these deadly weapons, including AK-47s, UZIs and Mac-10 rifles, are permanently prohibited in Massachusetts no matter what happens on the federal level.
This is not the first time the National Rifle Association has tried to whitewash Romney's history on assault weapons. In a September 6 interview, NRA's chief lobbyist Chris Cox asked Romney, “As governor, you signed a major bill reforming Massachusetts' gun registration and licensing laws. Some in the media and elsewhere claim this bill was a reauthorization of the semi-auto ban in Massachusetts. What's your response?” Romney replied that the legislation in question “expanded the rights of Massachusetts gun owners” and said he opposed laws “intended to burden gun owners and sportsmen.”
The NRA, whose media arm NRA News may as well be a “Romney for President” advertisement on loop, is waging an “All In” campaign that seeks to remove President Obama from office. It is just hard to see, however, how backing the enactor of “An Act Furthering Regulating Certain Weapons” plays into the narrative that Obama, who has taken no action to restrict firearm ownership during his first term, is the real gun grabber.