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Fact Check: Romney's Stance on Gun Control

In last night’s presidential debate, former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney stated that while in Boston both sides came together to create an assault weapons ban. But is that statement accurate? WAMC’s Lucas Willard did some fact-checking and filed this report.

In last night’s presidential debate, moderator Candy Crowley pressed Mitt Romney’s stance on a federal assault weapons ban – asking why he came from supporting an assault weapons ban in Massachusetts to not supporting a federal ban. This was his response.

That piece of legislation is known as An Act Further Regulating Certain Weapons, signed in 2004. The bill was designed to extend a 1998 statewide assault weapons ban, while President George W. Bush let the federal ban expire in 2004. In addition to making the statewide ban permanent, it also included changes to certain regulations. It included licensing improvements, and created stiffer penalties for home invaders. That act was supported by the Gun Owner’s Action League or GOAL – the official state association of the National Rifle Association, and the group Stop Handgun Violence

John Rosenthal, Founder of Stop Handgun Violence, says he was the “anti-gun” guy that Romney spoke about during the debate. Rosenthal says that up until an hour before the bill signing press conference, he hadn’t even known he would be speaking about it alongside the governor to the press.

The “pro-gun” guy was Jim Wallace, executive director of GOAL. Wallace spoke with WAMC, but chose not to comment on the issue.

On GOAL’s webpage, a report called the “Romney Record” details all of Romney’s work related to gun ownership as governor. Goal calls that 2004 press conference “botched” and says that the media got the wrong idea. 

During the debate Romney appears to take credit for bringing “both sides” together for the debate.

But Rosenthal disputes that Romney had any involvement in the debate process or have a hand in drafting the bill.

Rosenthal also says that he is a strong supporter of the second amendment, and believes Romney did change his mind on the assault weapons ban in his run for president, and he did solely for political points.

GOAL's "Romney Record" can be found here: http://www.goal.org/newspages/romney.html

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.