NRA Calls Libertarian VP Nom. “Anti-Gun” For Having Same Positions On Guns As Trump

NRA Calls Libertarian VP Nom. “Anti-Gun” For Having Same Positions On Guns As Trump

››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

The National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm attacked former Massachusetts governor and Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee Bill Weld as “anti-gun” because of statements Weld made about assault weapons and allowing gun sales to suspected terrorists. Weld’s positions on those issues are similar to positions held by GOP nominee Donald Trump, whom the NRA has endorsed.

NRA Attacks Libertarian VP Nominee Bill Weld As “Anti-Gun” Over Statements On Gun Sales To Suspected Terrorists

NRA Lobbying Arm: “Weld’s Political Instincts Are To Abandon Gun Owners And Embrace Gun Control.” The NRA Institute for Legislative Action criticized Weld for suggesting that individuals on terror watch lists should not be allowed to purchase firearms and for commenting on the dangers of military-style rifles available for civilian purchase (emphasis original):

In July 2016, while NRA and other groups concerned with civil liberties were hard at work fighting legislation that would have stripped Americans of their Second Amendment rights without due process based merely on their placement on a secret government watch list, Weld expressed support for such measures.

In an interview with the Washington Post Editorial Board, Weld said of watch list gun control legislation:

I think the Susan Collins stuff looks good. I mean, it's hard for me, uh, having proposed this super-duper task force getting bits of information from all over to say, it wouldn't lie with good grace in my mouth to say 'no, don't use the terrorist watch list as a source of such information.' So I would go with that.

In an August interview with Revolt.tv, Weld reiterated this position. When asked about what can be done “to control this flow of guns,” Weld responded, “you shouldn’t have anybody who’s on a terrorist watch list be able to buy any gun at all.”

At another point in the interview Weld characterized commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms and standard-capacity magazines as potential weapons of mass destruction. Displaying a level of ignorance usually attendant to politicians carrying the endorsement of the Brady Campaign, Weld told the interviewer:

The five-shot rifle, that’s a standard military rifle. The problem is if you attach a clip to it so it can fire more shells and if you remove the pin so that it becomes an automatic weapon. And those are independent criminal offenses. That’s when they become essentially a weapon of mass destruction.

Weld went on to suggest to the interviewer that both handguns and AR-15s are a “problem,” stating, “The problem with handguns is probably even worse than the problem of the AR-15.”

This latest episode reveals that when pressed on firearms issues, despite any assurances he has given to voters, Weld’s political instincts are to abandon gun owners and embrace gun control. [NRA-ILA, 8/26/16]

The NRA Opposes Legislation To Block Gun Sales To Individuals On Terror Watch Lists. [Media Matters, 6/15/16; NRA-ILA, 6/15/16]

Despite Weld’s Comments, The Libertarian Ticket Actually Lines Up With The NRA On Gun Sales To Suspected Terrorists. USA Today noted that while “even Trump has suggested in a tweet that he wants to discuss banning gun sales to those on the terrorist watch lists,” that Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson opposes such a ban:

In the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando that left 49 victims dead, Johnson says Americans would be safer if guns were more readily available, not more restricted -- a stance that puts him in line with the fiercest advocates of Second Amendment rights. Even Trump has suggested in a tweet that he wants to discuss banning gun sales to those on the terrorist watch lists, a proposal Johnson opposes because some names may erroneously appear on them. [USA Today, 6/16/16]

Despite NRA Endorsement, Trump Agrees With Weld, Supports Blocking Gun Sales To Individuals On Terror Watch Lists

The NRA Endorsed Trump For President During Its May 2016 Annual Meeting. During the endorsement, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said if Trump is elected “we will save our freedom and America truly will be great again.” [Politico, 5/20/16]

Trump Says He’d “Like To See” Gun Sales To People On Terror Watch Lists Blocked. The Hill reported that, unlike the NRA, Trump supports no longer allowing individuals on terror watch lists to purchase firearms:

Donald Trump continues to diverge from the rest of the Republican Party on issues of gun control, reaffirming in an interview to air Sunday that those on the terrorist watchlist shouldn't be able to buy guns.

"We have to make sure that people that are terrorists or have even an inclination toward terrorism cannot buy weapons, guns," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said in an interview to air Sunday on "This Week."

When asked if his position is that those on the terrorist watchlist shouldn't be able to purchase a gun, Trump responded, "I'd like to see that, and I'd like to say it. And it's simpler. It's just simpler." [The Hill, 6/18/16]

Like Weld, Trump Has Held Contradictory Positions On Banning Assault Weapons

Weld Walked Back Past Support For Gun Safety Measures. While taking questions in Facebook in May, Weld referenced his past support for assault weapons bans and said that he would “make some different choices” on gun regulations than he did as governor of Massachusetts during the early 90s, arguing, “Restricting Americans’ gun rights doesn’t make us safer, and threatens our constitutional freedoms”:

I am a lifelong hunter and gun owner. In 1993, however, as Governor of Massachusetts, I went along with some modest restrictions on certain types of firearms. I was deeply concerned about gun violence, and frankly, the people I represented were demanding action. Sometimes, governing involves tough choices, and I had to make more than a few.

Today, almost 25 years later, I would make some different choices. Restricting Americans’ gun rights doesn’t make us safer, and threatens our constitutional freedoms. I was pleased by and support the Supreme Court’s decision in the District of Columbia vs. Heller -- a decision that embraced the notion that our Second Amendment rights are individual rights, not to be abridged by the government. [Bill Weld, 5/21/16 via Reason.com]

Trump Repudiated His Previous Support For Banning Assault Weapons. While Trump wrote in 2000, “I support the ban on assault weapons,” his official policy position as a presidential candidate is to oppose assault weapons bans:

Back in 2000, Trump, in his book "The America We Deserve," said he supported the 1994 federal assault weapons ban. (The law expired in 2004 and was not renewed by Congress.)

"I generally oppose gun control," he wrote then, "but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today's internet technology we should be able to tell within 72 hours if a potential gun owner has a record."

But in a policy paper released in September 2015, a little more than three months into his campaign, Trump offered a very different take.

"Gun and magazine bans are a total failure," he said. "That's been proven every time it's been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like 'assault weapons', 'military-style weapons' and 'high capacity magazines' to confuse people. What they're really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans."

PolitiFact rated Trump's reversal a "full flop." [CNN.com, 6/20/16]

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