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Obama vs. Romney 101: 4 ways they compare on gun control

A spate of gun violence has beset the United States ahead of the November election, raising the perennial question about how effectively America regulates its 300 million-plus guns. Yet neither presidential candidate is likely to hoist his own complicated record as a rallying cry.

- Staff writer

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, accompanied by his wife, Ann, prepares to speak at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis, on April 13. (Michael Conroy/AP/File)

3. Do Obama and Romney pack heat?

The Monitor could find no recorded evidence of the president ever handling, never mind firing, a gun. He has never posed with them, à la former presidential candidate John Kerry, for campaigning purposes. He is not a member of the National Rifle Association.

Instead, perceptions of Obama's attitude toward guns have been shaped by a comment that he made at a 2008 fundraiser in San Francisco, saying that small town Pennsylvanians are "bitter" and "cling to guns or religion ... to explain their frustrations." During an Illinois Senate campaign, he also gave answers to a questionnaire that suggested he supported a ban on handguns. (Obama later said a staffer filled in the questionnaire erroneously.)

Unlike Obama, there is a record of Romney handling guns. But an early campaign narrative of him as an avid sportsman a decade ago was eventually watered down to acknowledge that the Michigan native’s hunting experience boils down to a few “varmint” shooting expeditions. 

“I'm not a big-game hunter," Romney subsequently said.

“Leave it to Mitt Romney to shoot himself in the foot with a gun he doesn't own," Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi chuckled at the time.

After proclaiming that his views don’t completely align with the NRA, Romney became a lifetime member of the organization in 2006.

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