The U.K. Telegraph is doing the job American journalists won’t do, and has set out to get a rough idea of where Republican candidates stand on the issue of Second Amendment rights. They asked whether or not candidates were gun owners, provided their NRA record (if available), and mentioned their known guns as reported in the media, resulting in the following chart.
I’ve asked one of the reporters (Raf Sanchez) who put this story together if they have a comparable story on Democrat candidate gun ownership that I’ve either missed, or that they haven’t published yet. We strongly suspect that there isn’t a story, as they are all abysmal on Second Amendment issues.
What Sanchez and his collaborator David Lawler didn’t do was rank the candidates based on their answers, and more importantly, their records.
Not every candidate has a legislative track record on 2nd Amendment issues. Donald Trump and Ben Carson are all coming into the race as private citizens.
Not every candidate is a gun owner. Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, and Chris Christie do not own guns.
While no ranking system is perfect, we can loosely rank the candidates* based upon their legislative records, their gun ownership, their past public statements, and “walking the walk”… whether or not we know they’ve put in time on the firing line, and whether their gun usage suggests an actual appreciation for firearms, or whether their interest is in merely fabricating a consumable public image.
Top Tier 2nd Amendment Candidates
To earn a spot in our top tier, candidates need to not only have a strong track record of supporting the Second Amendment rights of American citizens, but need to be not just gun owners themselves, but real shooters… not just on the campaign trail, or in theory.
Rick Perry (R) — The two-term governor of Texas not only spends a lot of time on the gun range with his collection of firearms, but has been known to carry a concealed handgun, which he’s famously used to shoot and kill a coyote that threatened his dog during a morning run. He would seem to easily have more trigger time than any other candidate, and has a solid pro-gun record in office.
Rand Paul (R)— The Kentucky libertarian is a known gun owner, and is a well-known 2nd Amendment absolutist.
Mike Huckabee (R) — The first American governor with a concealed carry permit, gun collector, and an avid hunter, Huckabee is clearly on the record as noting that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is as protection against a tyrannical government.
Second Tier 2nd Amendment Candidates
Our second tier candidates talk a good game, but don’t necessarily “walk the walk” as much as the top tier candidates… and that’s fine. You can be a supporter of something without being an active participant.
Ted Cruz (R) — Cruz has been on the winning side of two pro-gun Supreme Court cases, and is a gun owner of a revolver and a shotgun. It was tough to decide whether he belonged at the tail end of the top tier or at the top of the second tier, but felt that he simply doesn’t seem to log enough trigger time to hang with Perry, Paul, and Huckabee.
Lindsey Graham (R) — Graham has a sizable gun collection and is said to be an excellent shot, but his willingness to compromise on many things has often made gun owners nervous.
Jim Gilmore (R) — Gilmore sits on the NRA’s Board of Directors, owns pistols and shotguns, and has a concealed carry permit. We’d like to consider ranking him higher, but he simply doesn’t have much of a footprint, despite being on the NRA board.
Scott Walker (R) — Governor Walker came to gun ownership later in life. While he has an excellent legislative track record so far, he’s never bought a gun, and the two gifted firearms he owns are used only for hunting, giving him a distinctly Fuddish vibe.
Rick Santorum (R) — Santorum has a strong legislative track record and owns more than a half dozen firearms, including his favorite, a Kimber 1911.
Jim Webb (D) — Barely breathing in the race, Webb has been both a Republican and a Democrat, and has a strong pro-military and relatively conservative pro-gun voting record that is rare among a Democrat party that has lurched to the far left overall.
Jeb Bush (R) — Bush is not a gun owner, but had a solid track record as the governor of Florida.
Bobby Jindal (R) — Jindal talks a good game and has frequent photo ops with firearms, bu remains largely untested on the issue.
Carly Fiorina (R) — Does not own guns, but says that her husband owns many and that she’s a strong supporter of the right to keep and bear arms.
Marco Rubio (R) — Owns a Taurus revolver, bless his heart. Has a record in Florida that is decidedly “meh.”
Bottom Tier 2nd Amendment Candidates
John Kasich (R) — Voted for Bill Clinton’s 1994 “ban” on so-called assault weapons. Was better as governor.
Donald Trump(R) — Though a concealed carry permit holder with a newfound respect for the 2nd Amendment, Republican front-runner Trump has supported the 1994 assault weapon ban, waiting periods, & background checks.
Ben Carson (R) — The gifted retired neurosurgeon briefly voiced support for a ban on semi-automatic firearms in urban areas before quickly retreating after being blasted for his views. He claims to be a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, but we simply don’t see it.
Chris Christie (R) — Christie has a mixed record on gun rights, but leans toward the more totalitarian end of the spectrum.
“Off to the Gulag With You, Scurvy Peasant” Tier 2nd Amendment Candidates*
George Pataki (R) — Merrily signed anti-gun legislation as Governor of New York, including bans on semi-automatic rifles and standard capacity magazines.
Bernie Sanders (D) — Though a long-time socialist, Sanders had always been somewhat conservative when it came to 2nd Amendment issues… until he decided to run for President. Currently, he’s lurching towards strict gun control to maintain support among his left-wing, anti-liberty, socialist and communist base of support.
Lincoln Chaffee (D) — The flip-flopping Chaffee is for “common sense” gun control.
Martin O’Malley (D) — The former mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland has signed every bit of gun control legislation that has ever appeared in front of him, and is clamoring for more.
Hillary Clinton (D) — The tired, entitled, and seemingly corrupt former Secretary of State seems intent on branding herself as the most anti-gun of anti-gun candidates, to the point of blowing gun rights out of proportion as an issue in the campaign. Of course, when every other mention of you in the media involves one of several scandals and possible crimes, you need to get people focused on something other than yourself…
* Joe “Two Blasts” Biden is not yet a declared candidate, but when (and if ) he declares, he’ll be a “scurvy peasant” tier candidate, along with the Rachel Dolezal of Native Americans, Elizabeth Warren. There are numerous other fringe declared Democrat candidates who have declared their candidacies, but none poll over 1% of the vote consistently, and are irrelevant. This includes the farcical candidate Deez Nuts, who isn’t old enough to be eligible.