ST. LOUIS, Mo. - In an address to the National Rifle Association's annual meeting, Mitt Romney accused President Obama of "using every imaginable ploy" to restrict the right to bear arms.
Speaking to a crowd of thousands at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Romney vowed to enforce current gun laws without creating new ones and said he would work to protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans.
"We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners," said Romney. "President Obama has not, I will."
"We need a president who will stand up for the rights of hunters and sportsmen, and those seeking to protect their homes and their families," he said. "President Obama has not, I will.
"And if we are going to safeguard our Second Amendment, it is time to elect a president who will defend the rights President Obama ignores or minimizes, and I will protect the Second Amendment rights of American people," Romney pledged.
But Romney's remarks about gun control came toward the end of his speech - the candidate did not even mention the word "gun" until 18 minutes in - and focused the bulk of his remarks on shrinking the size of the government and reducing the nation's spending habits.
"Freedom is the victim of unbounded government appetite, and so is economic growth, job growth and wage growth," said Romney. "As government takes more and more, there is less and less incentive to take risk, to invest, to innovate, and to hire."
Romney, who earlier this year revealed that he owns two shotguns, did not delve into his own hunting history during his speech. Earlier Friday, one of his senior advisors declined to specify when he purchased the firearms, where he keeps them or how frequently he uses them. Romney purchased a lifetime membership in the NRA during the last campaign.
In contrast, Sen. Rick Santorum, who suspended his bid for the presidency earlier this week, began his own address to the NRA today with tales of hunting with his family, saying that his wife Karen "owns way more guns" than he does.
"We had the national media trailing along with us as we went on a bird hunt in central Iowa right before the Iowa caucuses, and it was very exciting," Santorum recalled, laughing.