TX Gov. Rick Perry goes hunting; Associated Press reminds nation of Romney's anti-gun record
by Chad D. Baus
As the run-up to Republican presidential primary continues, Buckeye Firearms is interested in covering as many of the candidates as possible, in order to give our readers an informed perspective on the candidates' position on the Second Amendment.
As it stands, however, there continues to be only one candidates among those polling in the top eight who is making a point to discuss the issue of gun rights in his campaign - Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
In September, Perry told attendees at a town hall meeting what his policy is when it comes to gun control - "use both hands." A video of Perry delivering the quip went viral.
A few weeks later, Perry told an inquisitive journalist what he does with his free time: "I don't play golf, I shoot guns."
And just last week, the Associated Press followed Perry on a pheasant hunting trip into the Iowa fields, and published an extensive article on Perry's pro-gun record.
From the October 22 article, entitled "At ease, Rick Perry hunts pheasants in Iowa:"
Meet Rick Perry, lifelong hunter.
He's floundered on the debate stage. He's stumbled on immigration. But the Perry who showed up for a pheasant hunt on a chilly Iowa Saturday was perfectly, naturally at ease - and not afraid to talk about it.
"As long as I've got memory I've had something to go hunting with," Perry said, "so it was a long love affair with a boy and his gun that turned into a man and his gun and then it turned into a man and his son and his daughter and their guns."
The article goes on to say that Perry has been a hunter for decades, and contrasts his strong support for gun rights with that of GOP rival Mitt Romney.
"Perry had an old junky airplane we flew everywhere; he had an old snub-nosed 310," said Cliff Johnson, a former state legislator who still hunts with Perry, referring to a small Cessna 310 airplane. "Hell, every time third time we flew we'd have an onboard fire. They were put together with John Deere parts, let's just put it that way."
Contrast that with his rival, Mitt Romney, who struggled mightily to explain his own limited personal background with hunting and firearms. In 2008, Romney said he'd been "a hunter pretty much all my life" when he'd actually only been out a handful of times. He backed the 1994 Brady gun control bill, and as governor of Massachusetts, he supported the state's strict gun control laws and signed one of the nation's tougher assault weapons laws.
The AP neglected to mention it, but in his last attempt to win the nomination, Romney lied about having received an NRA endorsement on national television. Is it any wonder he is hoping to win the GOP nomination without discussing the gun issue this time around?
Gun rights was also an issue during his gubernatorial race in 2002. The following video clip shows how Romney answered his pro-Second Amendment critics, upset over his support for a Massachusetts assault weapons ban, one of the nation's toughest gun control laws:
The AP article goes on to say that Perry's love affair with guns, on the other hand, has manifested itself as a record of easing restrictions on carrying guns in Texas.
"Gov. Perry believes that all law-abiding, licensed gun owners should be able to carry their firearm anywhere they please," Perry's campaign said in a statement outlining his positions on gun control.
As governor, Perry supported legislation that made it easier for Texans to pay for a concealed handgun license, and a bill to let them keep their concealed handgun licenses for five years instead of four. He helped cut agreements with other states to let Texans carry their concealed handguns outside the state.
Perry has his own concealed handgun license - and regularly carries one, once famously shooting a coyote that was threatening his daughter's Labrador retriever while out on a jog. The gun company, Ruger, has a special version of its .380 in Perry's honor: the True Texan Coyote Special.
And where it comes to guns, Perry has plenty of the same aggressive bravado he's displayed on the debate stage. He sent a video introduction to the National Rifle Association Convention that featured him shooting a rifle and calling himself "a believer in the notion that gun control is hitting what you're aiming at."
The AP article notes that Perry is not afraid to make it a point of aggressive contrast with Romney.
"I would no more consider living in Massachusetts than I suspect a great number of folks from Massachusetts would like to live in Texas," he wrote in his book, "Fed Up!," while naming Ted Kennedy and John Kerry as popular figures in that state. "Texans, on the other hand, elect folks like me. You know the type, the kind of guy who goes jogging in the morning, packing a Ruger .380 with laser sights and loaded with hollow-point bullets and shoots a coyote that is threatening his daughter's dog."
Perry is also quietly, obviously comfortable with a rural hunting culture that's common to many Republican primary voters - but that's alien to many of his rivals.
Ahead of Saturday's hunt, Perry and a handful of his staffers stayed at the 14-room Hole in the Wall Lodge outside of tiny Akron, in western Iowa, reachable only after a drive down a dirt country road. He appeared in the main lodge shortly after dawn, clad in hunting camouflaged rain boots and a tan button-down shirt.
"I feel great," a relaxed Perry, leaning his head back against a wood and stone pillar, told the pair of reporters who had appeared in the half-darkened lodge for a 6:30 a.m. breakfast prepared by the innkeepers. Perry said he wasn't worried about his back bothering him during the hunt. He had surgery to fuse two of the vertebrae in his spine earlier this year, and said he had been stretching and swimming until he could start running again.
He spent at least a half an hour over breakfast with Iowa Rep. Steve King, leaning on his elbow as King explained the background of the yearly hunt. It's named for Col. Bud Day, a decorated Air Force veteran who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. He mixed easily with King's family, including two sons and two grandchildren.
And when King and his family clambered into waiting cars to drive the dozen or so miles to the Loess Hills Hunting Preserve, Perry carried his own shotgun to his waiting SUV.
Buckeye Firearms has not endorsed a candidate in the GOP primary, but the vast majority of our coverage on the race thus far has focused on Perry. That's because the Texan is the only candidate making news on the Second Amendment - America's First Freedom.
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.