Possible US Republican candidates to court gun lobby

2014-04-26 06:43


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Indianapolis - Several potential Republican contenders for president will court gun-rights supporters at the annual convention of the nation's largest gun lobby on Friday.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Indiana Governor Mike Pence and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum are set to speak at the convention's leadership forum, a kind of political pep rally and strategy meeting the National Rifle Association (NRA) considers one of its premier events of the year.

They'll be speaking to thousands of NRA members at a time when the gun lobby is arguably stronger than ever. And each possible 2016 candidate is expected to highlight his own role in pushing back gun-control measures.

Jindal approved several gun rights bills last year, including one that creates stiff penalties for those who knowingly publish the names of gun permit holders. In 2010, he signed a measure that allowed concealed handguns in churches, mosques and synagogues.

Rubio opposed limiting gun rights after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. But he also has opposed some gun-rights legislation.

Pence approved a measure this year that allowed guns in locked vehicles on school property.

Addressing the same forum in 2013, Santorum thanked the crowd for fighting back when "freedom was under assault" following Sandy Hook.

That's when gun-control efforts, including background checks for all gun purchasers and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, were defeated in Congress.

More than 70 000 people are expected to attend the three-day convention in Indianapolis. Gun-control supporters also are making their voices heard, holding rallies outside the event.

An Associated Press-GfK poll in December found that 52% of Americans favoured stricter gun laws, 31% wanted them left as they were, and 15% said they should be loosened.

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