Monday, September 14, 2009

The National Rifle Association announced Monday that it will endorse Republican candidate Robert F. McDonnell for governor because he has been “steadfast and forthright in his support of gun rights.”

During a conference call with reporters, Chris W. Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, said the organization will bring its resources to bear in favor of the candidate, which includes calling its more than 120,000 Virginia members, state concealed-carry permit holders, hunters and gun collectors to ask that they support the Republican.

“Bob McDonnell is an effective leader for Virginia hunters and gun owners,” Mr. Cox said. “His opinions and actions as an attorney general have protected and enhanced the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Virginians. His zero-tolerance attitude toward criminals makes him the best choice for governor. We ask every Virginia hunter, gun owner and Second Amendment advocate to vote McDonnell for governor this November.”

The endorsement would hardly be noteworthy if it weren’t for the fact that the NRA endorsed Mr. McDonnell’s Democratic opponent R. Creigh Deeds four years ago when the two ran for attorney general.

Mr. Deeds earned the NRA backing in 2005 in part for being one of just 36 delegates in the General Assembly opposing a 1993 measure limiting handgun purchases to one per month.

The issue was so vexing to L. Douglas Wilder, who as governor crafted the one-gun rule, that when he was mayor of Richmond Mr. Wilder withheld an endorsement in the Deeds-McDonnell 2005 race.

Mr. McDonnell won that contest by a little over 300 votes; however, in the ensuing years the NRA said he has gone above and beyond what was required to protect gun owners’ rights, Mr. Cox said.

In response to questions about why the organization has withdrawn its support of Mr. Deeds in favor of Mr. McDonnell, Mr. Cox said that “a lot has changed in the last four years since the 2005 attorney general race. Two things that haven’t changed are the National Rifle Association and Bob McDonnell. The one thing that did change was Creigh Deeds. I have to be honest with you, gun owners were shocked and disappointed when Creigh flip-flopped and voted for arbitrary and unnecessary restrictions on Virginia gun shows.”

Because of his record on crime and in support of the 2nd Amendment, the NRA has awarded Mr. McDonnell an A rating.

Mr. Cox pointed to Mr. McDonnell’s record as attorney general, including his support of overturning the District of Columbia’s gun law and his efforts to pass legislation making “straw purchases” by out-of-state agents illegal.

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