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Utahns in Congress, armed or not, big gun-rights supporters



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"The issue is not are guns cute, or are guns used for shooting or have you ever shot skeet with a gun, the issue is the Second Amendment is an individual right for self-protection and that right is an absolute," Bishop says.

"Congress is prohibited from taking that right which is given by God in the first place. Whether one has a gun or not is insignificant to the issue that is at hand."

At a glance

Utah’s delegation: Packing or not?

Sen. Orrin Hatch » Owns several guns. Concealed-carry permit holder.

Sen. Mike Lee » Doesn’t own any firearms or hold a concealed-carry permit. Does enjoy shooting.

Rep. Jim Matheson » Doesn’t own any firearms. Does hold a concealed-carry permit.

Rep. Rob Bishop » Doesn’t own any firearms or hold a concealed-carry permit.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz » Owns one handgun, one shotgun. Concealed-carry permit holder.

Rep. Chris Stewart » Owns four firearms: Two Beretta handguns, a 30.06 rifle and 12-gauge and a 20-gauge shotguns. Has a concealed-carry permit.

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Guns, though, are a significant campaign prop.

Varmint hunting » In 2007, when Mitt Romney was trying to show his rural bona fides and raise his profile in the Republican presidential primaries, he noted that he had gone shooting before and uttered fateful words that came back to haunt him.

"I’m not a big-game hunter," Romney said. "I’ve made that very clear. I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will."

Then-Sen. John Kerry, tripped over the issue too, donning camouflage, an orange vest and toting a shotgun in 2004 to up his standing with the gun crowd. The move backfired, with conservatives likening the Democrat to the cartoon character Elmer Fudd.

Even President Barack Obama felt pressure to prove that he, too, had fired a gun. The White House recently released a photo of the president firing a shotgun at Camp David. The president had told The New Republic that he likes to shoot skeet.

"He never pretended to, or suggested that he had grown up as a hunter, or engaging in sports activities with weapons," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. "He simply said that he had — and this is the truth — that he had enjoyed shooting at Camp David."

Of course, owning or shooting a gun doesn’t lock one into one side of the debate.


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Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and husband of Giffords, the ex-congresswoman who still suffers from being shot, notes that he and his wife own guns.

"We have our firearms for the same reasons that millions of Americans just like us have guns, to defend ourselves, to defend our families, for hunting and for target shooting," Kelly testified recently before the Senate Judiciary Committee, adding that he backs the Second Amendment right to own firearms.

"We take that right very seriously and we would never, ever give it up, just like Gabby would never relinquish her gun, and I would never relinquish mine," he added. "But rights demand responsibility, and this right does not extend to terrorists, it does not extend to criminals and it does not extend to the mentally ill."

tburr@sltrib.com



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