It's no secret that Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry likes guns. What has not been known is how steeped he is in a radical pro-gun ideology that most Americans, and most gun owners, would find puzzling and dangerous.
A recent tip-off was his reaction to a reporter's question about whether he carries a concealed weapon while campaigning. Instead of dismissing the question as absurd, he smiled and refused to say. Instead, he remarked, "That's why they call it concealed." If Perry is willing to entertain the idea that Presidential candidates should carry guns at emotionally charged political events, what other crazy gun ideas lurk beneath that impressive head of hair?
In our new report, Gunslinger: Rick Perry's Reckless Record on Guns, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence uncovers years of evidence that Governor Perry is so committed to gun extremism that he long ago lost contact with common sense on this life-and-death issue.
First, Perry has an attitude problem. I've met many gun owners in my years with the Brady organization. Most of them feel the great burden of responsibility that goes with gun ownership. They approach the possession of a deadly weapon with a sense of great seriousness and humility. Perry's rhetoric about guns, on the other hand, reflects a strutting arrogance.
In his book, Fed Up!, he explains why he would "never consider living in Massachusetts," because that State elects people like Ted Kennedy, while "Texans, on the other hand, elect folks like me. You know the type, the kind of guy who goes jogging in the morning, packing a Ruger .380 with laser sights and loaded with hollow-point bullets, and shoots a coyote that is threatening his daughter's dog. We like that our law-abiding citizens carry guns down here."
Perry was terribly pleased with himself for winning his battle with a coyote. He told a reporter that he left the coyote where it fell. "He became mulch," said the Governor. He did, however, explain that he carries his Ruger loaded with hollow point bullets when he jogs because he's "afraid of snakes," an admission that doesn't quite fit the macho gunslinger image he is anxious to project.
Perry's cavalier attitude toward lethal weaponry also is reflected in a speech he made at a Dallas gun store last year. While handling a Ruger handgun, he became animated about the benefits of laser sights (which appear to be a particular obsession of Perry's): "I will highly recommend that you put the crimson laser sight on it. I'm thinking you may not have had that much experience, so I'm going to help you out a little bit. You just shoot where the dot is." Worried that your inexperience with guns may cause you to hit an unintended target? The magic laser dot is all you need.
It should go without saying that Perry received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association, which he considers "the most important group out there." Perry's pledge of allegiance to the gun lobby carries with it an unquestioning endorsement of radical positions far out of the American mainstream. Try these on for size:
Rick Perry may turn President Obama into a gun control advocate after all.
Dennis Henigan is the Acting President of the Brady Campaign and author of Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths that Paralyze American Gun Policy (Potomac Books 2009). Previous blogs by Dennis Henigan are also posted at the Brady Campaign's Brady Blog.