Perry defends position on bill to impose background checks for gun buyers


On Friday, Texas governor and avid gun rights supporter Rick Perry speaks to the group. Earlier this week, he spoke exclusively to Eyewitness News.

We met the Governor at LaRue Tactical, a Central Texas manufacturer of highly precise military-style weapons to talk and shoot. It was a chance to ask him why his support for gun rights is so unyielding at a time when a vast majority of Americans feel something needs to change.

It's a Tuesday morning, north of Austin and Perry is holding court. He's also holding a .308 LaRue Tactical assault riffle.

If there's a furious gun control debate in this country, you wouldn't know it here. Right now, the governor is focused on the egg, and it's 100 yards down range.

Perry grew up with guns. He's familiar with them and suspects if everyone knew what he did, they'd see this divisive issue his way.

"When's the first time you shot? Do you remember?" we asked Perry.

"I would've been 4 -- whenever you could get around the stock of a gun," he said. "To me this is no different than any of those other types of hobbies."

His hobby involves weapons a decreasing but still majority number of Americans want banned. Perry says assault weapons are critical for personal protection from criminals, and extending his argument, even wild game.

"Do you really need this to get a feral hog?" we asked him.

"You obviously have not been around a 350-pound boar feral hog," he replied.

Now he is enticing gun makers fleeing new restrictions to come to Texas. It's good for jobs, he says. A gun gear manufacturer just announced a move to Texas on Wednesday. And he calls the recently defeated background check bill an ineffective waste of time.

"They're so focused on the wrong issue. They're trying to make law-abiding people jump through more hoops. And I think that a lot of this is those on the left, they just want something so they can say we won a battle here," Perry said.

So if not a weapons ban or a background check, what would Perry support to somehow slow 30,000 American gun deaths each year?

"What's a gun rights reform that you think you and the NRA could support?" we asked him.

"I am not sure there is any gun reform that's needed in this country," Perry replied.

As of just a few weeks ago, 540,000 people applied to buy a firearm this year in Texas alone. That's one out of every 39 Texans in just three months -- as many as 16 other states combined.

And those gun owners clearly have the right guy in the governor's office -- someone who is not ashamed to be a gun owner.

"The vast majority of the people in our state and in our country don't have a deep knowledge about firearms. They are afraid of them, and I think the more we can talk about them is another good day," Perry said.

The governor has said repeatedly, and told us this week, that the only change he would support would be to increase treatment for the mentally ill and efforts to keep guns out of their hands. He denies criticism that he hasn't done enough in his time as governor to do that already.

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