Eight GOP presidential candidates meet in St. Petersburg, Florida, for the CNN/YouTube debate.
See candidates answer on the Second Amendment
See Rudy get booed on gun control
Forum discussion
Jay Fox: I'm Jay Fox, lifetime member of the NRA. Now, I am from a small town and as in any small time, we like our big guns. My question to you is: What is your opinion of gun control? And don't worry, you can answer however you like.
(Laughter)
(Applause)
Cooper: Congressman Hunter? You have 90 seconds.
Hunter: Well, first I've got to inform Jay that as a guy who got his first hunting license at the age of 10 and really believes in the right to keep and bear arms, and used them in the military, as my son did in Fallujah, you should never throw a gun to a person. He should have taken that gun handed-off from his fellow hunter. So you have to be safe with guns, Jay.
But the right to keep and bear arms is an important element of community security, home security, and national security. I think it is a tradition of the American soldier.
From Bunker Hill to New Orleans to the rooftops of Fallujah, the right to keep and bear arms and use them effectively is an important part of America's security. And I will strongly enforce the Second Amendment as president of the United States.
Cooper: All right. On the same topic, another question. Let's watch.
Andrew Fink: Hello. My name is Andrew Fink, and I have a question for Rudy Giuliani.
Mr. Giuliani, at a recent NRA convention, you stated that it's every American's right to be secure. Yet, on March 21 of the year 2000, The Boston Globe quoted you as saying, "Anyone wanting to own a gun should have to pass a written exam."
Considering the Constitution grants us the right to bear arms as a means of protection, why do you believe that citizens should be required to pass an exam in order to exercise their right to protect themselves and their families?
Thank you.
Cooper: Mayor Giuliani, 90 seconds.
Giuliani: Andrew, what I believe is that we have to be very aggressive about enforcing the gun laws that exist. I had a city in which, when I took over, there were 2,000 murders a year, 10,000 felonies a week. And I enforced the gun laws very aggressively.
I enforced all laws very aggressively. And that's the reason we reduced shootings by 74 percent. We reduced homicide by 67 percent. And we went from being one of the most dangerous cities in the country to being one of the safest.
As far as that's concerned, what I believe is, the Second Amendment gives people an individual right to keep and to bear arms. Government can impose reasonable regulations. Generally, those reasonable regulations would be about...
(Audience booing)
Cooper: Let him answer.
Giuliani: Let me finish. Generally, those reasonable regulations would be about criminal background, background of mental instability, basically the ones that are outlined in the opinion of the judge who wrote the Parker decision, Judge Silverman. And if those regulations go beyond that, then those are unconstitutional.
I think states can have a little bit of leeway. New York could have a somewhat stricter rule than, let's say, Kentucky. Texas might have different rules than Ohio. But generally, you've got to comply with this rule.
Now, the Supreme Court's going to decide this. The Supreme Court's going to decide this, probably within the next six months. The Parker (ph) case has been taken to the Supreme Court. They're going to decide whether it's a right that pertains to the militia -- which I don't believe it is -- or is it a right that is a personal right. I believe that it is.
And I will live by that. And people will be allowed to have guns. I'm not going to interfere with that. Generally, decisions are going to be made on a state basis. And they're going to have to comply with the Constitution.
Cooper: Senator Thompson, last week you said that you don't think Mayor Giuliani's ever been a supporter of the Second Amendment. Why did you say that -- 30 seconds.
Thompson: Well, the mayor has supported a wide array of gun control laws. I'm not sure there's ever one that didn't come up for consideration in terms of legislation that he didn't support -- signing ceremonies with people from President Clinton's Cabinet and that sort of thing when they came up.
The Second Amendment is not a choice thing. I mean, it's in the Constitution of the United States -- that's the protection that the people have against...
(Applause)
The case that the mayor refers to is the Washington D.C. case, and they were taking the same position, basically, the mayor took, as far as the city of New York is concerned.
They said, "You know, it will make a safer city if we outlaw law- abiding citizens having the right to posses a firearm." It didn't make them a safer city.
The D.C. Court of Appeals held that it was a violation of their Second Amendment rights and, hopefully, the Supreme Court will uphold the D.C. court.
Cooper: Mayor?
Giuliani: I agree with the senator that it didn't make it a safer city. And some of these gun laws do not make a city a safer city.
The things we did in New York, indisputably, made New York City a much safer city. And the law in the District of Columbia and the law in New York are different.
The law in the District of Columbia made it impossible for you to have a firearm. And if New York City went that far, it should also be declared unconstitutional.
The Second Amendment clearly gives you the right to carry and to bear arms. In my reading of it, it's an individual right, and I believe the Supreme Court will declare that. And that protection comes from the Constitution, not just a president.
Cooper: Staying on the topic, another question from a viewer.
Eric Bentson: Hi there. I'm Eric Bentson from Phoenix, Arizona. Got a quick question for all you candidates.
Any of you all want to tell us about your gun collection, roughly how many you own, what your favorite make, model and caliber is, if any of them require a tax stamp?
Cooper: (Off-mike) if you have a machine gun or a silencer.
Senator Thompson?
Thompson: I own a couple of guns, but I'm not going to tell you what they are or where they are.
(Laughter)
(Applause)
Cooper: Senator McCain?
McCain: For a long time I used a lot of guns, including carrying a .45 as a pilot flying in combat over Vietnam.
I know how to use guns. I don't own one now.
Cooper: Congressman Hunter?
Hunter: I have an old 20-gauge L.C. Smith that is just like the gun that my dad used to carry when I would walk behind him as a 9- year-old kid and pick up the shells when he was hunting quail. I finally got a chance to buy one of those a few years ago, the same gun that he had had and given to me when I was nine or ten year old when I bought my first hunting license.
The right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment is a large part protection. It is also a large part family tradition.
Cooper: Is there anyone here besides Senator McCain who does not own a gun? Mayor Giuliani? Governor Romney?
Romney: I have two guns in my home. They are owned by my son Josh.
Cooper: All right, there you have it.