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Tom Zirpoli: Romney bends to NRA's will

As the governor of a blue state, Mitt Romney was noted for his moderation and independence on social issues. So it was not a surprise in 1994 when Romney was running for a U.S. Senate seat in his home state that he would shun the NRA and made it a point to say in a speech, "I don't line up with the NRA."

Indeed, Romney did not line up with the NRA. Under his watch as governor, Massachusetts became the first state to permanently ban assault weapons. And he supported the Brady Bill, which required a five-day waiting period for gun purchases.

Romney wasn't even a member of the NRA until 2006 when he, coincidentally, started his run for the 2008 Republican nomination for president. During that campaign Romney stated that he had been a hunter "pretty much all of my life." Yet, records showed that Romney never had a hunting license.

Well, forget all of that history because Romney announced at the annual National Rifle Association meeting in St. Louis a few weeks ago that he is not only in line with them, but that he is their best friend. Forget about what he said about the NRA when running for office in Massachusetts. As one member at the NRA convention stated about Romney's anti-NRA policies in Massachusetts, "A man's got to do what a man's got to do."

Romney pledged his full support to the NRA, which stands for the right of any American, regardless of mental capacity, mental illness or criminal record (including terrorism), to own a gun. They stand against background checks for gun buyers. Their lobbyists in Washington have successfully convinced Congress not to fully fund a national registry that would prevent gun sales to criminals and suspected terrorists. To date, Congress has provided less than 5 percent of the funds necessary for this national gun registry.

Polls show that most Americans, regardless of political party, support reasonable limits to gun purchases. Even NRA members support reasonable limits to gun ownership; but not the leadership of the NRA.

The Stand Your Ground laws passed in many of our states across America were promoted by the NRA. "In reality," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a speech before the National Press Club, "the NRA's leaders weren't interested in public safety. They were interested in promoting a culture where people take the law into their own hands and face no consequences for it. Let's call that by its real name: vigilantism."

Bloomberg is co-chair of an organization called Mayors Against Illegal Guns. City mayors are usually the ones holding the body-bags, so to speak, as national politicians refuse to confront the NRA.

Writer E.J. Dionne stated that, "If the NRA proposed a statute to arm all 10-year-olds to make our schools safer, hundreds of state legislators and members of Congress would robotically vote yes. You can also predict what the NRA slogan would be: An armed child is a safer child."

President Barack Obama has basically ignored the NRA and the entire issue of gun control. Most Democrats have given up on the gun control issue, thinking that the juice isn't worth the squeeze. But that doesn't stop the NRA from stating that Obama wants to take everyone's guns away. He does not, of course. But it makes a great slogan and fundraising strategy for the NRA, populated mostly by Republicans.

When Romney was a Massachusetts politician, reasonable gun control was a reasonable thing to support. Today, however, Romney has learned that being reasonable isn't going to get him the Republican nomination for president.

A man's got to do what a man's got to do. No one is better at that than Romney.

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