A troubling trend is coursing through the field of Republican candidates for governor. The top tier contenders are either waffling, fencing sitting or outright flip-flopping on the issue of gun control particularly whether they would sign legislation that would repeal the tough, post-Sandy Hook gun control laws. It’s pandering at its worst and the Big Three—Mark Boughton, Tom Foley and John McKinney—should be called out on it.
The latest reversal, disappointing as it is, comes from Sen. McKinney, the state Senate Minority Leader. McKinney, whose district includes Newtown, showed great courage in helping craft and pass the legislation. But in an appearance before a group of rural voters in the northeastern part of the state—often called the “quiet corner”—McKinney flipped and then flopped on the landmark legislation:
Wow. One of the chief backers of the Newtown laws would sign a bill repealing them if it came to his desk as governor. The question is was McKinney really committing to signing legislation that would repeal the laws or was he, as many politicians do, simply telling a pro-gun group what they wanted to hear? Either way it’s sad. Any voter who favors laws addressing what happened in Newtown should take it into consideration when choosing a candidate.
Not far behind in pro-gun pandering is Boughton, the mayor of Danbury. It seemed Boughton had carved out a reasonable if not completely discernable position. As far as The Shad can tell, he doesn’t seek to repeal the post-Newtown laws and belonged to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” (MAIG) but has a record of supporting the Second Amendment rights of “law-abiding citizens.” Looks like a reasonable, moderate position (and one held by most people in the state).
Yet Boughton played to the Republican base and inexplicably resigned from MAIG. His explanation is, “It is clear in recent months however that Bloomberg’s mission has changed from law enforcement to simply increasing gun regulations.” There is no evidence Bloomberg changed the group’s mission. It has always been about gun control regulations. Again, like McKinney, a disappointing move by an otherwise likeable and certainly viable candidate.
Perceived frontrunner Tom Foley, the former ambassador and 2010 nominee, has had a lame position—or lack thereof—since his entrance into the campaign. He hasn’t said he would sign a repeal of the new gun control laws if he was governor but has said, “If I were governor and the legislature put in front of me legislation that would reduce the burden on law-abiding gun owners, I would sign it.” He has also said that if was governor, the post-Newtown laws would “look very different.”
None of these positions is exactly a profile in courage. If fact, they’re cowardly. They are either complete pandering by changing positions (Boughton, McKinney) or indecipherable (Foley). If gun control and related laws become a focal point in the general election, whoever is the Republican nominee is in trouble.