Rudy Giuliani, in full pander mode while addressing the National Rifle Association today, demonstrated the art of the acrobatic flip-flop, as he sought to show that he is gung ho for gun rights after having been against 'em.
Rudy today: "People commit crimes, not guns."
Rudy in a PBS interview on May 31, 1995: "It's the person who uses the gun that is the source of the real problem. The gun is also the source of a very big problem."
Rudy's stance today: Each state should be free to decide its own gun laws, without federal interference.
Rudy on May 31, 1995, defending his '94 support for President Clinton's federal ban on assault weapons: "I don't understand (the NRA's) fighting a ban on assault weapons," at a time when his NYC cops were imperiled because "criminals can get their hands on assault weapons outside of New York City." The NRA's "unwillingness to deal with some of the realities we face in cities is a terrible, terrible mistake."
Rudy today: "We need...to leave law-abiding citizens alone."
Rudy in January 1994: "National registration of guns is critically important for us in starting to get a handle on what goes on outside of New York."
Rudy in 1997: "The United State Congress needs to pass uniform licensing for everyone carrying a gun."
Rudy during his brief 2000 Senate race: "I believe that we should treat the possession of a handgun the way we treat driving an automobile."
Rudy today: "I'd like us to respect each other."
Rudy in 2000: "This is an industry which profits from the suffering of innocent people."
Rudy in 1995: The NRA people are "the extremists of the right."
Also, Rudy today somehow forgot to mention that a lawsuit that he filed as mayor seven years ago against the gun industry was being argued this week in federal court. He was reminded of this fact by a questioner. He replied by saying that the lawsuit has taken "several twists and several turns that I don't agree with," and then neglected to identify those disagreeable twists and turns.
Nevertheless, he assured the gun lobby that he was a forthright guy worthy of their trust in the future ("I will tell you what I really believe"). However, he cautioned that if in the future he feels compelled to change his beliefs, "then I'll explain to you why." I'm sure that made the NRA feel better.
Rudy doesn't expect the NRA's endorsement; he is merely hoping that the group will be sufficiently mollified to leave him alone during the Republican primary season. But the NRA never forgets an insult; nor will it necessarily embrace a panderer who has already recalibrated his beliefs in the name of ambition.