Many Republican and conservative politicians proudly stand in defense of the Second Amendment, often declaring a protection of the right to bear arms as part of their political platform. But one major presidential front runner, Jeb Bush, was recently exposed as having “conflated” a story that painted him as a champion of Second Amendment rights.
According to the Washington Times, Jeb Bush claimed to have been given the National Rifle Association’s “Statesman of the Year” award in 2003, but no record of that award ever existing in the NRA has been found. The candidate also claimed multiple times to have been given a special commemorative rifle by the actor Charlton Heston, and it appears that this isn’t true either.
“You know who you’re lookin’ at here? You’re looking at the guy who won the NRA Statesman of the Year award,” Jeb Bush said at a town hall in Milford, New Hampshire. “Not the Florida award. The national award. And I got a rifle from Charlton Heston, I got a rifle from Moses.”
The NRA did hold an annual meeting in 2003 in Orlando, Florida, at which Jeb Bush was the keynote speaker. Being a strong advocate for gun rights and the governor of Florida at the time, Jeb Bush was the obvious choice to present at the event. However, the National Rifle Association kept a meeting page from that year which does not mention Jeb Bush receiving any such award. In fact, it appears that “Statesman of the Year” is not a title the NRA hands out to anyone.
When BuzzFeed ran searches for “Statesman of the Year” along with the name “Jeb Bush,” the only results were the comments the candidate himself made about earning the award. The one bit of truth to Jeb Bush’s claim to fame is being honored with a rifle at the NRA annual meeting, but it was not given to him by Charlton Heston. A spokesman from the candidate’s campaign told BuzzFeed that Jeb Bush simply got the details wrong.
“In recounting the story, [Jeb Bush] was mistaken and conflated multiple events unintentionally. Heston met with Jeb at that NRA convention and was the head of the NRA at the time, but it was Kayne Robinson who presented Jeb with the rifle for being keynote speaker. Heston had previously said he supported Jeb’s reelection at a 2002 campaign event. Jeb was lauded by the NRA on multiple occasions for his second amendment record, including signing legislation that the NRA dubbed the ‘Six Pack Of Freedom.’ Jeb has a lifetime A+ rating from the NRA.”
Heston, who was president of the NRA for a time, was reportedly at the event with Jeb Bush, but he had to leave early. And the “Statesman of the Year” award is a real award given out by the Sarasota Republican Party in Florida, not the NRA. And Jeb Bush never received it. Donald Trump did, most recently.
Despite the falsities in Jeb Bush’s statements, the Republican presidential candidate continues to cite the rifle given by Charles Heston and the NRA award as proof of his track record in support of Second Amendment rights.
“The best approach is to have the laws be thoroughly vetted at the state level,” Jeb Bush said in October. “And that’s why I’m proud of the fact I have perhaps the most pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment record as a governor of any state in the country. It’s why I was statesman of the year of the NRA. I received an award from Charlton Heston about 10 years ago.”
Do you think Jeb Bush simply forgot the details of the NRA event? Or is intentionally conflating the story to bolster his political reputation?
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]