Fred Thompson Answers My Questions

1. What are your credentials as an NRA member? How long have you been one, and what degree of membership do you hold?

I am an endowment life member of the NRA, which I first joined in 1995.

2. When did you start hunting or shooting, and when was the last time you went? What guns do you own right now?
(Editor's Note: Mr. Thompson did not answer this question)

3. If the Supreme Court finds that the Washington, D.C. gun law is unconstitutional—that the Second Amendment applies to individuals rather than militias—what would you do as President to take advantage of the ruling to our benefit?

I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. A ruling by the Supreme Court to that effect would not have any impact on what I would do as President, but it would clearly strengthen my hand and the hands of all who seek to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners: opposing arbitrary bans on classes of firearms due to appearance; protecting gun shows from laws that could put them out of business; preventing gun confiscations from law-abiding gun owners in the wake of emergencies and disasters; fending off the variety of restrictions on the gun rights of law-abiding citizens often wrongly pursued in the name of crime control; and protecting hunters from unwarranted interference. Likewise, although it does not involve a Second Amendment issue, I would also seek to promote common sense conservation policies based on sound science so that future generations have lands on which to hunt and waterways in which to fish.

4. Of the Republican candidates, only Mike Huckabee seems sympathetic to gun owners. Of the others, who would be the worst President for gun owners? Who would be the worst Democrat?

I do not accept the premise of the question that Gov. Huckabee is the only Republican candidate sympathetic to gun owners and sportsmen. As my record shows (“A” ratings from the NRA), I have been and remain a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and of the rights of guns owners and sportsmen. The records of other candidates in both parties on firearms issues are far less supportive of the interests and rights of gun owners and sportsmen, but I am not going to characterize or rank any of my opponents. Why support one of them when a candidate like me, who has a record of support for gun owners and sportsmen, is running?

5. Under the Bush administration, the BATFE seems to have been concentrating their efforts on prosecuting legitimate dealers for paperwork errors—making it difficult or impossible for them to make a living. If you were President, would you have the BATFE relent on this practice, and what would you ask them to focus on?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives should have as its priority its efforts to combat violent crime, violent criminal gangs, and to interdict and disrupt the gun traffickers who supply violent gang members with firearms. While one way to curb illicit gun trafficking is to ensure that legitimate dealers maintain their paperwork in good order, these paperwork violations should in no way be BATFE’s focus. I would also consider giving BATFE a wider range of sanctions so that dealers’ simple paperwork violations do not result in license revocations. Finally, having a politically accountable BATFE Director, who is now subject to Senate confirmation, instead of a career bureaucrat should also help change BATFE’s priorities and make the agency more responsive.