Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry: I will only appoint pro-gun justices to U.S. Supreme Court

Texas governor "the only candidate trying to connect with gun owners"

by Chad D. Baus

The only Republican presidential candidate to have made his support for gun rights a part of his campaign is discussing it yet again.

On Monday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told attendees at a town hall meeting in Manchester, Iowa, that if he is elected president he will only appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who support the Second Amendment rights of gun owners.

From The Des Moines Register:

Asked his stance on the issue during a town hall meeting with about 60 people at a Pizza Ranch in Manchester, Perry said he has a "real clear" position in favor of gun owners, and he used the occasion to attack President Barack Obama. The man who asked the question was wearing a National Rifle Association baseball cap.

"When I look at some of the issues that this administration is dealing with, it's clearly in conflict with what most Americans believe in from the standpoint of what our Founding Fathers meant when they wrote the Constitution," Perry said. "This isn't about a militia. This is about the private citizens of this country.

"I happen to believe it's our constitutional right and I will put Americans on the Supreme Court who will understand the strict construction that says Americans have the right to bear arms, and may it always be so," Perry said.

In addition to his concerns for President Obama's gun control record, Perry has also made it a point on several occasions to remind primary voters of fellow GOP contender Mitt Romney's anti-gun record.

Last week, The Daily Caller published an article listing "The favorite guns of the Republicans running for president". While he didn't provide a list, the article Perry notes that made news last year after using a .380 Ruger to shoot a coyote that threatened his dog while on a jog. Perry said at the time that he routinely carries a gun with him while running in case he runs into snakes.

Spokesman Matt Beynon reportedly told The Daily Caller that Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has seven guns, and his favorite is a Kimber 1911 pistol.

While not willing to divulge details about her collection, a spokeswoman for Michele Bachmann said the Minnesota congresswoman likes semi-automatic rifles. "Michele's favorite gun is the AR-15."

A spokesman told The DC that former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has a .22 rifle, 12 gauge shotgun and .38 pistol,, and that the .22 rifle is favorite.

According to the article, Texas Rep. Ron Paul also owns guns, but his campaign wouldn't get into specifics.

Also from the article:

A spokesman for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney didn't respond to an inquiry for this story, but a 2007 Associated Press article said Romney didn't own any guns then.

While running for president in 2007, Romney got caught in a brouhaha after claiming that he was a lifelong hunter. His campaign later said he had only hunted twice, as a teenager and then later in life with donors. Seeking to clarify, Romney went on to say that he was a longtime hunter of "small varmints."

It's not clear if former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich owns any guns. His campaign didn't respond to The DC's request for this story.

Throughout his campaign, Perry has made his support for gun rights a central issue. In early September he told a town hall audience that his version of gun control is to "use both hands." Several weeks later, he told reporters what he does in his free time: 'I don't play golf, I shoot guns'.

Last week, Perry's campaign sent between 50,000 and 100,000 Iowa Republican gun owners a mailer (obtained by RealClearPolitics) featuring Perry in hunting gear.

From RCP:

"Freedom starts with the right to self-defense," it reads, noting that Perry scored an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association.

The flyer also describes Perry as a farmer, hunter, Eagle Scout, Air Force pilot and constitutional conservative. It goes into more detail about his roots and ticks off his record on gun rights in Texas. At this point, he's the only candidate trying to connect with gun owners; he and Santorum were the only two who showed up to Iowa Rep. Steve King's pheasant shoot in November.

In 2008, there was much discussion about gun rights during the Republican Presidential primaries. Although there were a number of Republican candidates who had a strong pro-Second Amendment record, the party eventually settled on a candidate with an extremely spotty record on the Second Amendment (as well as other issues important to the conservative base).

The end result was that very little excitement could be found among the grassroots gun rights movement, which had been credited just two elections before of having tipped the vote in favor of then-Texas Governor George W. Bush (R) over then-Vice President Albert Gore Jr. (D). (In 2000, gun owners made up 38 percent of the total vote in New Mexico, 33 percent of the total in Florida and 27 percent of the total in Ohio)

Coupled with a media willing to cover for the extreme anti-gun record of the Democrats' candidate, Barack Obama, and a faux pro-gun group which had been set up by Democrats to provide cover (and which has since been dismantled), the stage was set for the election of the most anti-gun President in history.

Three years later, the Republican party is again faced with the prospect of choosing a candidate they believe can beat Obama at the ballot box. Unlike his last campaign, Obama's record of opposition to the Second Amendment rights of Americans can no longer be concealed. Since he was elected, Obama nominated proven gun ban extremists to his cabinet, attempted to stop the Department of Defense from selling once-fired military brass to reloaders, voiced support for a South American treaty as an end run around the Constitution, appointed two anti-gun Supreme Court Justices, blocked the import of highly collectible, historical military surplus firearms and slated them for destruction, and in a secret, closed door meeting with one of the nation's leading gun ban groups promised that he is working on even more gun control efforts "under the radar." More recently still, Obama's ATF has been exposed for having allowed the sale of as many as 2500 guns to Mexican drug cartels, which have since been used in multiple murders, as part of the now infamous "Fast and Furious" scandal.

If ever there was a time for Republicans to take advantage of a motivated grassroots pro-gun voting block, it is now. But will the party choose wisely, or will they once again neuter the pro-gun vote?

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman.

Related Article:
A look at the GOP's 2012 Presidential field from a gun rights perspective

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