- Romney promises to defend right to bear arms
- Santorum enrols daughter, three, as NRA member
PUBLISHED: 17:50 EST, 13 April 2012 | UPDATED: 07:45 EST, 14 April 2012
Newt Gingrich may not have much of a shot at becoming President, but he is refusing to go quietly.
And while he is no longer talking about the colonising the Moon, he does have plans which cover the entire globe.
The former House Speaker told the National Rifle Association today that gun ownership should be a right for everyone in the world, and called on the UN to adopt a treaty enforcing this.
Mr Gingrich told the convention in St Louis: ‘I believe the NRA has been too timid.’
Arguing that more guns would reduce violent crimes like rape and child murder, he promised that if elected to the White House he would push the UN to extend the right to bear arms to the rest of the world.
‘The Second Amendment is an amendment for all mankind,’ he said.
Rick Santorum, whose own fight for the Republican nomination ended this week, also struck an aggressively pro-gun tone as he revealed he had signed up his disabled three-year-old daughter to the NRA.
‘Karen and I are life members of the NRA, and we wanted to announce today that now Bella is a life member of the NRA too,’ he said. ‘I hope it is a long life.’
The former Pennsylvania Senator claimed that his wife was an even more enthusiastic gun user than he was.
‘When it comes to gun rights advocates I have to say I don’t hold a candle to my wife,’ he said. ‘I am a hunter and I am a gun owner, but she owns way more guns than I do.’
However, the day’s main event was a speech from probable GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who argued that Barack Obama had not protected gun owners during his time in office.
‘We need a President who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners,’ Mr Romney told thousands of NRA members. ‘President Obama has not. I will.’
Mr Obama has said relatively little about firearms, deeply disappointing gun-control groups.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said the president’s record ‘makes clear the he supports and respects the Second Amendment, and we’ll fight back against any attempts to mislead voters.’
The gathering of gun enthusiasts comes as Mr Romney is trying to woo conservative groups to consolidate his base after fending off challengers on his right.
His relationship with gun owner groups is uneasy. Running for the Senate in 1994, Mr Romney said: ‘I don’t line up with the NRA.’ A decade later he became a lifetime NRA member.
On Friday, he told the group: ‘We need a president who will stand up for the rights of hunters, sportsmen, and those seeking to protect their homes and their families. President Obama has not. I will.’
Asked for details to support the claims, Mr Romney’s campaign said Mr Obama has appointed judges, including Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who have supported moves such as placing temporary limits on importing semiautomatic assault weapons.
The campaign also said Attorney General Eric Holder has not adequately backed people’s rights to own and use firearms.
But gun-control groups such as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence have expressed dismay over the President’s lack of attention to their concerns.
Campaigning in 2008, Mr Obama said: ‘I believe in people’s lawful right to bear arms… There are some commonsense gun safety laws that I believe in. But I am not going to take your guns away.’
When Mr Romney ran successfully for Massachusetts Governor in 2002, the NRA gave his Democratic opponent a higher rating on gun-rights issues.
Massachusetts quadrupled its gun-licensing fee while Mr Romney was governor. He signed a law that made permanent a ban on assault-type weapons, although it was coupled with some measures backed by gun-rights groups.
As he was considering his first presidential run in 2006, Mr Romney became a lifetime NRA member.
He drew ridicule in 2008 by claiming he sometimes hunts ‘small varmints.’ He showed more humility last month in Alabama, where he said he hoped to go hunting with a friend who ‘can actually show me which end of the rifle to point.’
Mr Romney’s speech prompted a bit of gun control at the gun convention on Friday. Signs posted outside the hall where he was speaking said: ‘Concealed Firearms or Weapons are Prohibited on the Premises.’