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Giuliani and McCain Get Into a Gunfight

Steve Benen: The NRA convention is proving to be the perfect opportunity for McCain to attack Rudy from the right on gun control.
 
 
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This post, written by Steve Benen, originally appeared on The Carpetbagger Report

The National Rifle Association will kick off its national convention today, and Republican presidential hopefuls are expected to promise to be the greatest friend gun owners have ever had in the White House. None of this is particularly unusual -- the same thing happened in 2000, 1996, 1988, and so on.

But this year is a little different, because it's the first time Republicans have had a leading candidate who has a record of outright hostility for the NRA and the group's agenda.

Rudolph W. Giuliani will go before the rank and file of the National Rifle Association on Friday, seeking support for his Republican presidential campaign from a group he once likened to "extremists" for its efforts to repeal the ban on assault weapons.

But even as the former New York mayor strives to burnish his Second Amendment credentials at the gathering in Washington, a panel of federal judges in his home town will be hearing arguments on the lawsuit that Giuliani filed seven years ago aimed at punishing the nation's gun manufacturers for violent crimes involving firearms.

Announcing the lawsuit in 2000, then-Mayor Giuliani wrote in his weekly column about issues facing the city that "this is an industry which profits from the suffering of innocent people. The lawsuit is intended to end the free pass that the gun industry has enjoyed for a very long time, which has resulted in too many avoidable deaths."

He called the lawsuit "an aggressive step towards restoring accountability to an industry that profits from the suffering of others." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit will decide whether the lawsuit -- against Colt, Glock, Smith & Wesson and others -- can move forward despite federal legislation that attempted to grant immunity to the companies.

Asked if Giuliani still supports the lawsuit he helped file, the former mayor's presidential campaign refused to say.

Wait it gets worse.

In a 1995 interview with PBS's Charlie Rose, Giuliani said the NRA goes "overboard. The extremists on the left and the extremists on the right have essentially the same tactic," he said, adding later that "the NRA's, in essence, defense of assault weapons, and their unwillingness to deal with some of the realities here that we face in our cities is a terrible, terrible mistake."

Giuliani's support for the assault weapon ban won him the admiration of then-President Bill Clinton, who sent him an autographed picture of the pair sitting in the White House.

"To Mayor Giuliani," Clinton scrawled, "with thanks for your help on the assault weapons legislation. Bill Clinton."

As you might imagine, the NRA faithful do not necessarily consider Bill Clinton a close ally.

Steve Benen is a freelance writer/researcher and creator of The Carpetbagger Report. In addition, he is the lead editor of Salon.com's Blog Report, and has been a contributor to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Crooks & Liars, The American Prospect, and the Guardian.

 
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