The National Rifle Association’s political arm restored its endorsement of Rep. Paul Romrell, R-St. Anthony. A spokeswoman said the group stands firmly behind the legislator.
Amy Hunter, regional spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund said the group had “suspended” Romrell’s endorsement for two days while it reviewed comments the two-term lawmaker made about high-capacity magazines.
Now, the NRA backs Romrell without reservation.
"Romrell has always been solid on gun rights,” Hunter told IdahoReporter.com Monday.
In the Legislature, Romrell has voted for pro-gun bills, including this year’s permitless-carry legislation, which allowed law-abiding Idahoans to conceal firearms without a permit.
The state representative also supported a 2013 bill to allow Idahoans with enhanced weapons permits, which require special safety and marksman training, to carry their guns on campus.
However, comments Romrell made on a survey released in early 2016 by the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance put the legislator’s commitment to gun rights in question.
ISAA sent the survey to a handful of candidates in contested state legislative races. In response, Romrell indicated Romrell indicated he could possibly support legislation to ban, or otherwise restrict the sale or manufacture of, semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.
In a late-April interview with IdahoReporter.com, Romrell clarified his stance. He said the high-capacity magazines give him “heartburn” and wondered why gun-owners might want to own them.
“Sportsmen don’t need 200-round magazines,” Romrell told IdahoReporter.com. “Someone who wants to kill a lot of people could ask for a large magazine.”
There’s no official definition as to what constitutes a “large” or “high-capacity” magazine, but a federal law that expired in 2004 defined any magazine as “large” if it held more than 10 rounds.
After Romrell made the comments, Hunter said the NRA suspended the endorsement while it investigated further, which she said is the group’s “stand procedure.”
NRA staffers discussed the matter with Romrell, and the group restored its endorsement two days later. The group dropped his letter grade from an A+ to an A, but Hunter wasn’t aware of that change.
Asked about Romrell’s comments on high-capacity magazines, Hunter only reaffirmed the NRA’s support for the two-term legislator. “Our endorsement of him has not changed,” Hunter said.
The ISAA isn’t happy and the group’s president, Greg Pruett, wants Romrell to further clarify his stance on a potential magazine ban.
“Rep. Romrell made it clear to the ISAA that he would consider a ban on high-capacity magazines,” Pruett said. He suggested Romrell has been less-than-honest about his magazine stance, and urged the lawmaker to clarify his stance for voters.
“He needs to explain who’s getting the truth: the NRA or the ISAA,” Pruett said. “It can’t be both.”
Romrell emailed IdahoReporter.com Monday night to affirm his pro-gun stance. “I have always been a supporter of the NRA and always will be,” the legislator said. “I am also have never voted nor will I ever vote to take away or infringe upon anyone rights to have and bear arms.”
IdahoReporter.com asked Romrell if he still holds concerns about the high-capacity magazines, but the lawmaker has not responded.