Gun Control: Where Each of the Presidential Candidates Stands

The position of each 2016 candidate

By
Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul
Hillary Clinton supports gun control legislation, while Rand Paul is a staunch defender of the Second Amendment. Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty; Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty

Jeb Bush
Bush "has a conservative record on gun rights, having signed Florida's first-in-the-nation 'Stand Your Ground' bill into law in 2005," reports Vox.

Bush canceled a Charleston campaign event that had been slated for Thursday after news of the shooting broke. "Governor Bush's thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families affected by this tragedy," a spokesperson said.

Ben Carson
The far-right-wing Carson discussed his views on guns with Glenn Beck in 2013. "There's a reason for the Second Amendment; people do have the right to have weapons," he said, per Mediaite. He added that people should be allowed to have semi-automatic weapons in some cases: "It depends on where you live," he said. "I think if you live in the midst of a lot of people, and I'm afraid that that semi-automatic weapon is going to fall into the hands of a crazy person, I would rather you not have it," but if you reside "out in the country somewhere by yourself…I've no problem with that."

Carson later said those comments had been "perhaps a little inartful."

"What I was trying to get across," he said, "is that we need to talk about how do we keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of people who are crazy, of people and people who are horrendous criminals" – a goal he'd like to achieve, he said, not through gun registries but through "smart gun" technology.

Lincoln Chafee
According to Rhode Island Public Radio, as governor, Chafee supported 2013 legislation that would have banned semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. (That legislation was watered down significantly before it passed the legislature.)

Hillary Clinton
Gun control advocates see Clinton as "an ally who can finish the push for tightened background checks that has stalled in President Obama's second term," The Hill reports.

"We cannot let a minority of people, and that's what it is, it is a minority of people, hold a view point that terrorizes the majority of people," Clinton said last year, referring to groups that oppose gun control laws.

Ted Cruz
"The Second Amendment to the Constitution isn't for just protecting hunting rights, and it's not only to safeguard your right to target practice," Cruz has said, per the New York Times. "It is a Constitutional right to protect your children, your family, your home, our lives, and to serve as the ultimate check against governmental tyranny — for the protection of liberty."

Carly Fiorina
"Fiorina has said that she is a strong supporter of second-amendment gun rights and that she opposed the 1994 bill which banned a large group of semi-automatic or assault weapons," reports PBS. "In the 2010 U.S. Senate race, Fiorina said the No-Fly list is broad and some people on it should be allowed to own a gun."

Lindsey Graham
Graham opposes gun control legislation. As he said in a 2013 press release, after voting against a federal bill that would have banned assault weapons and expanded background checks, "I've always been confident if the Senate debated the Second Amendment, the Second Amendment would win. Today we saw that President Obama's politically-driven solutions to gun violence could not withstand scrutiny from Congress and the American people."

Mike Huckabee
Huckabee received an A+ rating from the NRA in 2006. He wrote on Facebook in early 2013, in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, "Gun control advocates say they're doing it on behalf of the victims of school shootings. But not all victims welcome their help. When two students opened fire at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, their first victim was Evan Todd. He survived being shot, but 12 of his classmates didn't. Todd is now a public speaker on violence prevention. But surprisingly, not on behalf of more gun laws. He told TheBlaze.com that gun control laws actually make the problem worse. Todd says school shooters are no more deterred by gun laws than Chicago gang members are…Of course, you're free to disagree… just please don't tell Evan Todd that he doesn't know what he's talking about. He's been there, and has the scars to prove it."

Huckabee named his 2015 memoir God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.

Martin O'Malley
O'Malley "is a critic of the National Rifle Association and proponent of gun control measures. As governor of the Old Line State, he pushed for and signed sweeping gun control legislation, banning 45 types of assault weapons, limiting magazine clips to ten bullets and requiring anyone purchasing a handgun to enter a fingerprint database," PBS reports.

George Pataki
Pataki is unusual among the crowded field of Republican candidates in that he supports gun control laws. As governor of New York, he passed what was at the time described by the New York Times as the strictest gun control legislation in the country.

Rand Paul
Paul is an ardent defender of the Second Amendment. "What kind of person goes into church and shoots nine people?" Paul said Thursday in reference to the Charleston shooting. "There's a sickness in our country. There's something terribly wrong. But it isn't going to be fixed by your government. It's people straying away, it's people not understanding where salvation comes from. I think if we understand that, we'll have better expectations of what to expect from government."

Rick Perry
Perry is an NRA supporter and Second Amendment advocate who, as governor of Texas, tried to lure gun manufacturers to the state. However, he has expressed some hesitation about open-carry gun laws. Incidentally, Perry lost the right to carry a concealed handgun last year when he was indicted for abuse of power.

Marco Rubio
Rubio is opposed to gun control laws. Earlier this year, he introduced a bill to make it easier for D.C. residents to obtain guns.

Bernie Sanders
Though Sanders has largely been to the left of his main democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, he is to the right of her in one notable way, as evidenced by his voting record: gun control. MSNBC's Steve Benen notes that "it's important to realize that Vermont has some of the most lax gun laws in the nation, in large part because gun violence in the Green Mountain State is so low," and that Sanders' gun votes put him "in line with his home state's political norms."

Rick Santorum
Santorum is opposed to gun control. "The Second Amendment is there to protect the First Amendment!" he has said.

Donald Trump
Trump "believes guns are necessary for self-defense and has written that he generally opposes gun control," PBS reports. "In his 2000 book, 'The America We Deserve' Trump wrote that he supports a ban on assault weapons and a slightly longer waiting period to buy a gun."

x