During his first term as New Mexico's governor, Bill Richardson backed legislation allowing residents to carry concealed weapons. When it became law in 2003, Richardson applied for a permit himself. Although he has said he seldom packs heat, the move was symbolic of a politician who has been largely supportive of gun owners' rights.
It also separates Richardson from the other Democrats running for president, who tend to favor more stringent regulation of firearms. Richardson's track record in Congress and in Santa Fe has earned him accolades from the National Rifle Association, which endorsed his reelection as governor last year. In September, he was the only Democratic presidential candidate to address a convention organized by the NRA to promote Second Amendment rights.
"This position doesn't always make me the most popular guy in the room with certain audiences," he said via telecast at the convention. "But the reality is that New Mexico has an age-old history of hunting, sportsmanship and other lawful shooting activities. It also has a proud history of defending the nation and its Constitution."