His own views have evolved from when he ran for the Senate and was governor in Massachusetts. In his failed 1994 Senate campaign he backed a waiting period on gun sales and an assault weapons ban that he said were ‘‘not going to make me the hero of the NRA.’’ As governor, he signed a state-level assault weapons ban that he argued was part of a brokered deal between the sides in the gun debate.
In the NRA interview published in September, Romney unequivocally opposed new gun restrictions, including one on semiautomatic weapons. ‘‘I do not support any additional laws to restrict the right to keep and bear arms,’’ he said. The group endorsed him in Virginia in early October and has since reserved more than $1.3 million in TV ad time in in Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, acknowledged some hesitancy about Romney but said gun-rights activists were mollified by his selection of Ryan as a running mate.
‘‘It created a lot more willingness to pull his lever, and at least some enthusiasm,’’ Pratt said. ‘‘Ryan is at least one of us.’’
Associated Press writer Mitch Stacy in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.