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Where do the Presidential Candidates Stand on Gun Control?

by Lauren Moore, published


Take a look at past and present stance on the issue of gun control, for each of the four main presidential candidates.

President Barack Obama


President Obama has been pretty quiet on the issue of gun control. From what he has said, he is pretty moderate calling for the traditional stronger background checks and better tracking of gun crimes to owners.

He was quoted in a Democratic Primary Debate in 2008:

“I think it’s important for us to recognize that we’ve got a tradition of handgun ownership and gun ownership generally. And a lot of law-abiding citizens use it for hunting, for sportsmanship, and for protecting their families. We also have a violence on the streets that is the result of illegal handgun usage. And so I think there is nothing wrong with a community saying we are going to take those illegal handguns off the streets. And cracking down on the various loopholes that exist in terms of background checks for children, the mentally ill. We can have reasonable, thoughtful gun control measure that I think respect the Second Amendment and people’s traditions.”

Despite the Associated Press’ claim that "Obama's history in support of strict gun control measures prior to becoming president makes it difficult for him to claim he's a Second Amendment champion, even though he signed a bill allowing people to take loaded guns into national parks," continuing, "Gun control is a fight that the administration is not willing to pick. They're not likely to win it."

President Obama has also been quoted as saying: "As a general principle, I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can't constrain the exercise of that right."

It's a carefully crafted statement leaving just enough wiggle room in his stance for the future, if he were to come out more forcefully on either side of the issue.

Mitt Romney


As of right now, Governor Romney is very clear on his support of the Second Amendment. In a taped message at the NRA’s 'Celebration of American Values' conference in 200,7 Romney said, "Let me speak very directly and candidly about where I stand. I support the Second Amendment as one of the most basic and fundamental rights of every American. It's essential to our functioning as a free society, as are all the liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights..."

Earlier in his career, however, he supported several gun control laws, such as the Brady Act.

Gary Johnson


In libertarian fashion, Garry Johnson believes the people have the right to decide what to do with guns.

He told Slate magazine in 2011, "I don't believe there should be any restrictions when it comes to firearms. None."

In a Playboy interview from 2000, he said: “If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. The first people who are going to be in line to turn in their guns are law-abiding citizens. Criminals are going to be left with guns. I believe that concealed carry is a way of reducing gun violence."

Jill Stein


Jill Stein strongly opposes an absolute right to own guns. When Jill Stein was asked in a 2011 On The Issues interview where she stands on gun control, the Green Party nominee replied, “It is more dangerous to the occupants of a home to have a gun than not. It's more likely that you'll be injured by your own gun than that you'll be defended against some intruder with that gun. It's an enormous public health problem in our cities--there are tragedies every day where young people are being shot, as victims of gun crimes. It's tragic. We're not arguing that nobody should have a gun--but public safety should factor into constraints.”


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