[McCain speaking in front of the NRA in May, 2008]
John McCain's campaign won't say whether he's for or against allowing suspected terrorists to buy guns, as he tries to pander to his lobbyist pals and the Republican pro-gun base but wanders into the "War On Some Terror" minefield by mistake.
Sen. John McCain portrays himself as a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. But does that extend to gun rights for suspected terrorists? His campaign won't say where he stands on a bill to eliminate a gun-control loophole that even the Bush administration wants closed: a gap in federal law that inhibits the government from stopping people on terrorist watch lists from buying guns. The bill was inspired by an official audit covering a five-month period in 2004 which found that, because of the loophole, the Feds had to greenlight 35 out of 44 cases where a gun buyer was on a terrorist watch list. One group opposed to closing the loophole is the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun manufacturers' trade association. Until this spring, one of its congressional lobbyists was Randy Scheunemann, now a top McCain campaign adviser on foreign policy.
... Registration documents filed by Scheunemann's company, Orion Strategies, list the terror-gap bill as one of its specific lobbying objectives, and the registrations listed Scheunemann as a lobbyist until he took a leave. McCain's campaign refused to answer questions about whether the senator supports or opposes the White House plan to close the loophole, and it also declined to say if Scheunemann had ever lobbied McCain on gun-control bills. "Randy Scheunemann is a foreign-policy adviser to Senator McCain, and he is on leave from Orion Strategies. We have no further comment," says Jill Hazelbaker, a campaign spokeswoman.
Yes, we know neocon Randy got McCain in over the old guy's head on Georgia. But does McCain really want to keep dancing around issues for the paid man who seems to do all his thinking for him?
The NSSF rightly says that the current bill removes "due process" from gun owners because "anyone can be put on the list". But what about due process for all those non-flyers first? (Or maybe for those held at Gitmo after being handed in for a bounty and tortured to ellicit confessions? What about their due process?) What was that? Randy doesn't get paid to whisper in John's ear about them? Oh, that makes everything clearer.
P.S. And just to add icing on the cake, Scheunemann was himself arrested by Capitol Hill police for a gun violation back in 1997 - possession of an unregistered gun and ammunition - when he was Trent Lott's top advisor. Talk about a conflict of interests.