President Romney in 2012?: What Mitt Should Be Doing Now

By Chad D. Baus

I've always been skeptical of election year conversions.

When Auditor of State Betty Montgomery phoned to ask my support for a 2006 bid to regain the office of State Attorney General (she had held the office previously), I reminded her of the day she told Buckeye Firearms Association Chair Jim Irvine that she would “never be the candidate of the NRA,”[1] and of the evening she told me that she was personally opposed to concealed carry.

She countered by saying that Ohio's concealed carry law had been so successful that she had changed her mind. Remembering Ronald Reagan's motto, “trust but verify”, I replied by saying “That's great! But gun owners are traditionally dubious about election year conversions, so what you need to do is to shout that from the mountaintops. Not only do you need to get out there on the stump and repeat what you told me, but you also need to get vocal about the improvements you believe need to be made to the law. After that, come back and we can talk again about my supporting your campaign for another term as Attorney General.”

Betty ignored my advice. And that November, she was defeated by a pro-gun Democrat whom she dwarfed in name recognition as well as with her hefty campaign treasury.[2]

Candidate Betty has frequently come to mind throughout the year-long 2008 Presidential primary season, as candidates from both major parties asked pro-Second Amendment Americans to look past their anti-gun records and give blind faith to their claims of a newfound love for gun rights.

Hillary Clinton rediscovered a long-lost love for duck hunting.[3] Barack Obama decided there is an individual right to bear arms,[4] and his wife decided she understood why rural people might want a gun.[5] Rudy Giuliani decided gun control laws weren't right for fly-over country[6] and Mitt Romney bragged of hunting rabbits as a kid.[7]

Even now John McCain wants pro-gun voters to remember the decade that he voted pro-gun and to ignore the decade of anti-gun votes that followed it.[8] (And unlike Montgomery, McCain isn't even bothering to attempt an apology for his anti-gun votes, but rather continues to defend them.) Obama, a former Joyce Foundation board member and the most anti-Second Amendment candidate in U.S. history, is even farther beyond hope.

Which leaves me looking to the future. With Obama running for Jimmy Carter's second term, and McCain running to be to oldest man to assume the Presidency in history, there is a fighting chance that we'll have the opportunity to vote for a pro-gun candidate to replace the incumbent in 2012.

Mitt Romney clearly sees the potential for another chance in 2012. He quit the Presidential race before he had to because he wants to be President someday, endorsed the likely nominee because he wants to be President someday, and expressed openness to the VP slot because he wants to be President someday.

The next thing he needs to do is to follow the advice I gave to Betty Montgomery in 2006.

If indeed Mitt Romney's election year conversion on the Second Amendment was genuine, rather than just rhetoric I once suspected of being nothing more than bar-room promises made to an electorate he took for a cheap date,[9] Romney now has plenty of time to set about proving where he stands on the right to keep and bear arms.

What Mitt Romney Should be Doing Now (on a National Level):

  • Disavow his support for an assault weapons ban. It's stupid public policy, and he needs to say as such. One cannot vote for or support an assault weapons ban and be pro-gun. Anything else he does is for nothing if he still wants to sound moderate by saying he supports a ban.
  • Break the mold of presidential candidates who seem to view the Second Amendment as a right to hunt first, and a right to bear arms for defense as an inconvenient second place.
  • (Assuming that the Supreme Court clearly confirms the Second Amendment as an individual right when it rules on District of Columbia v. Heller) Move quickly and decisively, via a major speech/ press conference, to start drawing lines in the sand as to what would be an unacceptable infringement on that right. The anti-gun crowd is obviously going to try to get all sorts of gun control approved as reasonable restrictions, and Romney should be one of the loudest voices against them.
  • Get educated. Saying "I support the 2nd Amendment" is nice, but if he wants to distinguish himself from the field, he needs to become familiar with the nitty-gritty, such as why Castle Doctrine should be replicated in other states, what the current threats to gun owners are, arguments against ballistic fingerprinting, etc.
  • Develop and release details of a plan to reform America's gun laws. It isn't enough to say he is against making them worse. Significant improvements are needed, and Romney should detail the improvements he believes are necessary.
  • Publicly call on the Department of the Interior to change its rules regarding concealed carry in national parks.
  • Publicly call for passage of a National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Law, so that law-abiding Americans who chose to exercise their Second Amendment and self-defense rights while at home aren't disarmed when they travel for business or vacation.

What Mitt Romney Should be Doing Now (in his Home State of Massachusetts):

  • Work with state pro-gun grassroots groups to improve their draconian gun laws
  • Work with the MA Department of Fish & Game and other applicable governmental entities to open public shooting ranges and increase access to public hunting grounds
  • Sponsor and support passage of Families Afield apprentice hunting program
  • Become a NRA Election Volunteer Coordinator (EVC)

What Mitt Romney Should be Doing Now (on a Grassroots Level):

  • Campaign for NRA-endorsed candidates in targeted races.
  • Continue to upgrade his election-year purchase of an NRA Life Membership by regularly donating a generous contribution from his personal fortune to the support of (proven) state gun-rights groups like Buckeye Firearms Association as well as the NRA.
  • Host a fundraiser for pro-gun groups.
  • Sponsor a gun show.
  • Sponsor youth shooting programs, such as the NSSF Scholastic Clay Target Program

By no means is action on all of these items required for Romney to make some headway in proving he is a true convert. In fact, he could go a long way towards winning gun owners over just by saying, "I didn't grow up with guns, I'm no lifelong hunter, and I don't carry a concealed handgun into the board room with me. But the right to bear arms is a civil right just as important as freedom of speech, and I will support the ability of law-abiding Americans to exercise those rights at all times."

The key here is that NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT. If Romney waits until 2011 to speak out again on gun rights, we'll be right back to where we were in this recent primary season – looking at a candidate whose actions in office were largely anti-gun, and who has nothing but words to offer pro-gun voters in an election year.

Chad Baus is a Member of the Fulton County, OH Republican Central Committee and the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

Special thanks to fellow writers Larry S. Moore and Brian S. Stewart for their contributions.


[1] Betty Montgomery: "I will never be the candidate of the NRA.", August 19, 2005,

[2] Anti-gun Montgomery ''stunned'' by defeat, November 10, 2006,

[3] To my gun-owning Democrat friends: How could you vote for either one?, March 3, 2008,

[4] ibid

[5] Obama: My wife sees need for rural gun ownership, November 25, 2007,

[6] Few converts for Giuliani at NRA candidate forum, September 25, 2007,

[7] Will you be Mitt Romney's cheap date?, April 9, 2007,

[8] Forgotten already? John McCain's 2004 vote for the Clinton Gun Ban, June 10, 2008,

[9] Will you be Mitt Romney's cheap date?, April 9, 2007,

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