The National Rifle Association confirmed Wednesday it no longer endorses state Rep. Paul Romrell, R-St. Anthony, for re-election in Idaho’s May 17 Republican primary election.
NRA lobbyist Dakota Moore confirmed its position with IdahoReporter.com, saying it needs to take a longer look at Romrell’s position.
“We have pulled the endorsement until we have time to further evaluate Rep. Romrell’s positions on firearm restrictions,” Moore wrote Wednesday in a text message. “We have conflicting information on his position.”
As recently as Monday, the NRA gave Romrell its stamp of approval for re-election.
Moore added that the group’s retraction stems from Romrell’s position on the sale and use of high-capacity magazines.
“He filled out a perfect questionnaire, which included a question on magazine capacity,” Moore wrote.
Romrell, a two-term legislator in a tough re-election bout with fellow Republican Karey Hanks, told IdahoReporter.com earlier this week he would consider supporting a ban or some sort of restriction on the sale or use of high-capacity magazines. He said the 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 holds more than 10 rounds.
Romrell first hinted at his concern about high-capacity magazines in a mid-April survey issued by the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, Idaho’s leading gun rights group.Responding to that survey, Romrell said he wouldn’t oppose legislation to ban “the manufacture, sale or possession of semi-automatic firearms and/or large-capacity magazines.”
Upon further investigation by IdahoReporter.com, Romrell clarified that he doesn’t want to ban semi-automatic rifles. He then offered his position on the high-capacity magazines.
That stance put Romrell at odds with Moore and the NRA, which prompted the group to pull its endorsement. “We take our grades very seriously and want to weigh all available information to ensure an individual’s grade is an accurate representation of their beliefs,” Moore wrote. “We have pulled the endorsement during the evaluation process.”
Moore didn’t say if the NRA would re-evaluate Romrell’s A+ grade as well.
In the Legislature, Romrell has consistently voted pro-gun rights. He supported permitless-carry legislation this year, and backed a bill in 2014 to allow enhanced concealed-weapons permit holders to carry on campuses.
Still, Romrell’s critics aren’t comfortable with his stance on the magazines.
“Rep. Romrell has shown a clear lack of understanding of the real meaning of the Second Amendment,” ISAA President Greg Pruett said earlier this week. “The Second Amendment is not about what a sportsman might need for hunting. It’s about defending our country from tyranny.”
Romrell wouldn’t comment on the NRA’s retraction. He hadn’t heard the news when IdahoReporter.com called him Wednesday evening.
“I guess I’ll talk to [Moore] myself,” Romrell said.
He declined to elaborate further.