Edmond Terakopian/AFP/Getty Images
Former Mayor of New York and Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani takes questions from Celia Sandys, granddaughter of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during a visit to London on Wednesday.
Former Mayor of New York and Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani takes questions from Celia Sandys, granddaughter of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during a visit to London on Wednesday. Edmond Terakopian/AFP/Getty Images
Former New York City mayor and presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani addresses the National Rifle Association on Friday. The Republican frontrunner says he has always been in favor of a state-by-state approach to gun control, but some people say that is not so.
On Jan. 1, 1994, Giuliani, the steely former prosecutor, was sworn in as mayor of New York City. For the first time in a quarter century, the crime weary city had a Republican mayor.
When Giuliani gave his state of the city address later that month, he served up tough talk leavened with the kind of proposal a liberal could love.
"National registration of guns is critically important for us in starting to get a handle on what goes on outside of New York," he said at the time.
It is a position he never left during the eight years he was mayor.
In 1997, a gunman killed a tourist and wounded six others on the observation deck of the Empire State Building with a semi-automatic weapon purchased in Florida. Giuliani quickly convened a news conference. He singled out Florida for having "one of the loosest and least effective gun control laws in the country."
During the Feb. 24, 1997, news conference Giuliani said, "There should be a national licensing law. The laws in New York should be the uniform laws of the rest of the country."
In a town hall discussion in May 2000, Giuliani said he had never wavered on gun control since his days as an assistant U.S. attorney in Ronald Reagan's Justice Department.
"I'd like to see it go further," he said at the time. "I've favored the waiting period. I've strongly lobbied for it. I think I'm one of many reasons why it got passed in the first place because a Republican mayor was willing to go around the country supporting it."
It was not just that Giuliani was embracing a position the NRA loathed. In 1995, on the Charlie Rose show, he directly took on the gun-rights group for opposing an assault weapons ban.
"The NRA, for some reason, I think goes way overboard. It's almost what the extremists on the other side do. I think the extremists on the left and the extremists on the right have essentially the same tactic," he told Rose.
His willingness to distance himself from the national Republican Party was one of the reasons he was re-elected in largely Democratic New York City.
But now he is running in a different election, with a different base, and his statements have a different focus.
At a candidate debate in New Hampshire, Giuliani was asked if college students should be allowed to carry weapons.
"I think states have a right to decide that. I mean, states have a right to decide their gun laws," Giuliani said.
The Giuliani campaign deflects questions about whether his views on guns have changed by pointing out that he ran a city that saw a 66 percent cut in the murder rate while he was mayor.
And, while his past comments may not please some NRA members, the best the campaign can hope for is that his current position may ease any serious opposition.