Field & Stream interviews the candidates
Chuckle. His explanation of his "clinging to guns and faith" remark: "What they do expect is at the very least they can preserve those traditions that have been so important to them, like hunting, like their faith. That ends up being the focus of their attention [rather than economic issues]. "
Does he agree with Heller? No real answer: "hat I think it has done is provided some clarity that, in fact, the Second Amendment is an individual right and that law-abiding gun owners can't be prevented from going out and hunting, protecting their family on their own. That doesn't mean that, as Justice Scalia and the Supreme Court noted, it doesn't mean that we can't have some common-sense gun control legislation out there-for example, background checks, making sure that we're keeping guns out of the hands of criminals or people who have mental illnesses. The important point is that I am very mindful of the fact that sportsmen in America may have gone hunting with their fathers, their grandfathers, their mothers, their grandmothers, and that this is part of a tradition and a way of life that has to be preserved. And there's nothing that I will do as president of the United States that will in any way encroach on the ability of sportsmen to continue that tradition."
Does he include AW bans and registration as "common-sense" gun regulation? " I think that when it comes to the assault weapons ban, the answer is yes. I think AK-47s generally are not used for hunting. AK-47s or vest-piercing bullets are generally used to hurt people. And I think that it's legitimate for us to say military-style weapons that aren't traditionally used for purposes other than killing people, we've got to be careful about. But I'll be honest with you. I'm more interested in enforcing the laws that we do have-for example, tracing guns that are used in crimes back to people who have been using them. I don't anticipate that there's going to be a whole slew of efforts at the federal level when it comes to gun control. But I think that strong background checks; making sure that we're dealing with the gun-show loophole, which I think has been a problem; allowing us to trace guns that are used in crimes back to where they were purchased--those are the kinds of initiatives that I think pose no threat whatsoever to law-abiding gun owners."
Does the 2nd Amendment confer an individual right? "Absolutely. Absolutely."
Would you support an AW ban? "No."
How about a high-cap magazine ban? "No. Because we quickly get into an academic discussion--what's high-capacity? What's a banana clip?"
What issue is most likely to cause friction between you and gun owners? " Probably [that] I favor the closing of the gun-show loophole. In other words, when it's a small transaction. I do not support restrictions on family exchanges. But I think that gun shows are marvelous, and we now have the capability for instant background checks. That person that perpetrated the tragedy at [Virginia Tech in] Blacksburg should never have had access to a weapon because of his history. But I have favored the closing of the gun-show loophole. That's probably one of them, but I'm a strong supporter of gun shows, strong supporter of the Second Amendment, strong record in that area. So that probably may be one of those things. But I'm very proud of my record."
Do you own a gun? "I do not. I have used weapons most of my adult life in the military from when I first entered the Naval Academy, being out on the rifle and pistol range. I carried a pistol in combat. Never got a chance to use it [laughs]. So I'm very familiar. But I just haven't gotten into hunting. I have a son who's a hunter."
UPDATE: a reader points out that the interview of "the candidates" was really an interview of the two major party candidates. For example, Bob Barr, a thoroughly pro-gun candidate, was omitted since he's Lib rather than Demo or GOP.
Hat tip to reader Jack Anderson...