This Op-Ed by Rick Santorum first appeared on RedState.com on March 14, 2012:
As President of the United States I would take an oath to defend the Constitution – the whole Constitution – and that includes the Second Amendment and the cherished “right of the people to keep and bear Arms.” Sadly, President Obama and his Administration have mocked, downplayed, and disregarded this right.
When I take office, I will restore our gun rights – in full. I have been and always will be strongly committed to upholding this right that Americans rely on to defend themselves and their families, and for time-honored recreation like hunting and shooting sports. I am a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and I am proud to have earned an A+ rating from the NRA by working to protect Second Amendment rights in the Senate. I will never distance myself from the NRA or from the millions of law-abiding, gun-owning American citizens represented by the NRA and other pro gun rights organizations. Unlike President Obama, who mocks Americans for “clinging to their guns,” I applaud those who embrace their Second Amendment rights.
In the Senate, I worked to promote legislation that would further protect the rights of gun owners. In 2005, I strongly supported S. 397, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”), to prevent the filing of frivolous lawsuits against law-abiding gun manufacturers due to the crimes of third parties. This guilt by association tactic would have devastated businesses and harmed the Second Amendment rights of lawful gun owners. I am grateful for the opportunity to support this bill, which was eventually signed into law.
I also fought attempts by anti-gun politicians to pass sweeping legislation that would harm the rights of gun owners. I have voted against onerous background check language in bills that target private gun owners who sell from their personal collections at gun shows.
The Obama administration has expressed support for a U.N. arms trade treaty, in which terms are currently being negotiated behind closed doors. I would oppose any treaty that would use the goal of eliminating illegal trafficking in arms as an excuse to trample on the Second Amendment rights of gun owners and subject the American people to regulation by unaccountable, international bureaucrats.
Furthermore, I would appoint federal judges who uphold the Second Amendment, unlike President Obama, who seeks to stack the federal judiciary with anti-gun judges. Additionally, Obama appointed Caitlin Halligan to a prominent judgeship in the nation’s capital, despite her aggressive efforts as Solicitor General of New York to hold gun manufacturers liable for the crimes of third parties – the very danger that I helped guard against by passing the PLCAA. Halligan’s wide-ranging efforts in this area were ultimately halted by the federal courts, of which she is now a member.
Lastly, I would pursue sensible, responsible approaches to enforcing our nation’s gun laws, and oppose any “gun walking” operations such as Fast and Furious. Fast and Furious has most certainly brought disgrace to Attorney General Eric Holder and the administration – but more importantly and tragically cost the life of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was murdered by one of these very guns “walked” by the ATF.
Instead of protecting the Second Amendment from intrusive government, Governor Romney proposed raising taxes to own a gun from $25 to $75 in Massachusetts. The legislature more than obliged by quadrupling them from $25 to $100, and Romney joined his liberal colleagues by signing the measure into law. But that’s no surprise, it was Gov. Romney who said, “I don’t exactly line up with the NRA.”
In 1819 Daniel Webster from neighboring New Hampshire, and who represented Massachusetts in the Senate, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that “an unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy.” Governor Romney appears to have ignored this wisdom and warning when it comes to burdening gun rights. He also appointed mostly moderate and liberal judges in Massachusetts who modify or “moderate” the clear meaning of core constitutional protections like the Second Amendment.
As President Reagan famously said, “Trust, but verify.” On this crucial issue, you can trust that I will do my utmost to protect Second Amendment rights because you can verify, that based on my record, I am a friend to gun owners nationwide and a staunch defender of the right to keep and to bear arms. These are freedoms that we should cling to.