Few converts for Giuliani at NRA candidate forum

On Friday, we reported that GOP presidential wanna-be Rudy Guiliani would be seeking support from the NRA, a group he once likened to 'extremists', at the group's “A Celebration of American Values” candidate forum in Washington D.C..

As a follow-up to that meeting, MSNBC is reporting that Giuliani's attempts to distract pro-gun voters from his anti-gun record with a few pro-gun election year pick-up lines fell on largely deaf ears.

    Most members of the gun lobby who attended Friday’s “A Celebration of American Values” conference said they were encouraged by Giuliani’s appearance and what he said about support for gun rights. But most also said they were concerned about his track record supporting gun control as mayor of New York City, and favored other candidates in the Republican presidential primary.

    Bob Bell, a salesman from Clarkesville, MD, said he respected Giuliani’s leadership during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but preferred Thompson, a longtime supporter of Second Amendment rights. Bell said Giuliani’s mayoral record -- including his advocacy for the assault weapons ban and lawsuits against gun manufacturers -- weighed heavy on him. “He was a mayor of New York City, and try and get a gun permit up there,” he said.

    To garner his support, Bell said, Giuliani would have needed to espouse the right to carry weapons and make a retraction for his earlier views.

    Instead, Giuliani acknowledged disagreements with much of the crowd but stressed “there are a lot of things you and I have in common.” His message focused largely on enforcing current gun laws and prosecuting crimes committed with a gun, rather than new gun ownership restrictions. “The bottom line is we need to step up enforcement of gun crimes and leave law-abiding citizens alone,” Giuliani said to tepid applause.

    Sitting next to Bell at lunch Friday, Joe Rogers was keeping a scorecard for each of the presidential candidates on the conference’s brochure. While some speakers had check marks, Giuliani was the only one with a zero next to his name. The Wilmington, NC salesman said even Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson scored better during his taped remarks. “I don’t think there’s anything he could have said and been truthful about to win over the crowd,” Rogers said of Giuliani.

While the NRA has never endorsed in a Republican presidential primary, MSNBC reports that NRA officials have left that door open this year (as well they should, given the crop of anti-gun Republican front-runners), and are planning more forums in early primary states.

Following is a press release on Giuliani's attempts to distract from his anti-gun record from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

Firearms Industry Not Buying Giuliani Claims

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- As presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani prepares to address gun owners and Second Amendment advocates later this morning in Washington, D.C., senior officials from the firearms industry will be in Mr. Giuliani's hometown fighting a lawsuit the candidate filed -- and refuses to disavow -- seeking to hold law-abiding firearms manufacturers responsible for the criminal misuse of their products by others.

In response to the former New York City mayor's attempts to court gun owners, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) -- the trade association of the firearms industry -- is reminding America's sportsmen and firearms enthusiasts of the candidate's long record of hostility toward law-abiding gun-owners, the firearms industry and Second Amendment advocacy groups.

"Recent remarks indicate the mayor is attempting to camouflage his record on guns -- a political maneuver now common for politicians seeking national office," said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel.

In June 2000, then New York City Mayor Giuliani became the lone
Republican mayor to sue members of the firearms industry in a wave of lawsuits in the late 1990s by major metropolitan cities such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and San Francisco that sought to hold firearms manufacturers responsible for the criminal misuse of firearms.

At the time, Giuliani said, "This is an industry that is profiting from the suffering of innocent people. What's worse, its profits rest on a number of illegal and immoral practices. This lawsuit is meant to end the free pass that the gun industry has so long enjoyed."

The presidential candidate strongly opposed legislation blocking suits like the one he filed against members of the firearms industry. In 2005, President Bush signed legislation into law that barred such lawsuits after Congress, by a broad bipartisan margin, passed the bill. During the debate in Congress the Giuliani lawsuit was specifically referred to as an example of the kind of "junk" lawsuit the law is intended to stop.

"It's not surprising that Mr. Giuliani is now courting the firearms industry and the National Rifle Association -- whose members he has referred to as extremists," said Keane. "His support for gun control and contempt for the manufacturers, retailers and purchasers of firearms may have gained him praise in Gotham, but that will only handicap him in the rest of the country. He understands this and is now trying to backpedal.

"I wish I had more time to comment," added Keane, "but I'm in court today combating Mr. Giuliani's lawsuit against the country's firearms manufacturers."

NSSF is encouraging media and all interested parties to visit the NSSF Web site (www.nssf.org) and view Mr. Giuliani's record and past statements concerning firearms.

Related Media Coverage:

  • Washington Times: GOP rivals take aim at Giuliani
      Rudolph W. Giuliani yesterday assured members of the National Rifle Association he would protect their Second Amendment rights while his rivals for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination criticized his inconsistent record.

      While former Sen. Fred Thompson drew enthusiastic applause for boldly telling 500 NRA members gathered at the Capital Hilton that they should simply "check my record," the former New York City mayor frankly acknowledged: "You never get a candidate you agree with 100 percent."

      "There are a lot of things you and I have in common. There are probably a few things we disagree about, but there are many more things that we have in common," said Mr. Giuliani, the Republican front-runner, who once labeled the NRA as a pack of "extremists."

      Explaining his past endorsement of gun control, he said with a chuckle: "I'm not even sure I agree with myself 100 percent."

      ...Mr. Thompson, by far the crowd's favorite, followed with his own digs at the former mayor.

      "It's not just a matter of promises made, as far as I'm concerned, it's a matter of commitments that have been kept," he said. The former Tennessee senator and star of NBC's "Law & Order" said he hasn't changed his stance over time.

      "I will say the same things I've been saying since 1994, and what I say, I will say in New Hampshire and I will say in Florida and all parts in between. ... I'm not standing here before you as somebody who has been crazed about office ever since I was a junior in high school," he said to loud applause.

  • MSNBC: Thompson Lauds Gun Rights
      Fred Thompson, who hopes to have support from conservative groups like the NRA, enjoyed a warm reception. He called for the protection of all basic rights. "We are here today not just because we support the Second Amendment," Thompson said, "we are here today for our support of the rest of the Constitution."

      Asked about regulation at gun shows, Thompson responded, "Well, having just come from one --" referring to the gun show he visited in Florida last week. After some laughter, Thompson said the government should not restrict the rights of private citizens, in the home or at gun shows.

      At most of his campaign stops, Thompson tells people "basic rights come from God and not from government." For that line, he usually receives a fair response, but the NRA members reacted to it with much louder applause, providing the best reaction so far.

      Also, like he often does, Thompson praised his wife. But this time, he went farther and made a jab at the Clintons. "I think she'd make a much better First Lady than Bill Clinton."

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