U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin’s stance on guns doesn’t much resemble that of a Mississippi Republican, but it’s largely in lock-step with New Jersey’s GOP.
Hugin said at a press conference on Thursday that he supported some gun control measures, including expanded background checks and barring people with mental illnesses from owning guns, but also supported the rights of gun owners.
“I think there’s the right balance to ensure that we’re protected. I don’t think that people who are suffering from mental illness should have access to any kind of a weapon, and we should protect them and ourselves in lots of ways,” Hugin said. “So, I think there’s things we can do in terms of background checks to make sure that we have more safety without violating the right of people to own weapons.”
Hugin, a former marine who said he does not and has not owned a gun, was cagier on some more controversial gun measures.
He largely demurred when asked whether he supported a ban on assault-style weapons like those used in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
“I believe in sportsman’s rights, rights to own a gun, you have to look at the specifics of legislation to make sure it’s appropriate, but I’d always side with teachers and children as my first priority,” Hugin said.
Still, he’s departed somewhat from some Republicans’ almost traditional deference to the National Rifle Association. Hugin said that he had not filled out a policy questionnaire sent out by the organization, adding that he likely wouldn’t fill out similar questionnaires sent out by other organizations.
“I don’t believe that I should be beholden to any special interests,” Hugin said. “I don’t believe we’ll fill out anyone’s questionnaire.”
Hugin’s ability to self-fund will largely assuage the need to ask organizations like the NRA for campaign funds, but it could also deprive him of the organizing power such groups often provide. It’s also possible the strategy will deprive voters of some knowledge on his stances, but money can help there too.
Asked about a policy to arms teachers President Donald Trump’s administration is reportedly considering, Hugin said the wouldn’t support introducing weapons in that particular venue.
“I am personally not a fan of weapons in the classroom,” Hugin said.
But, he did support hunters’ rights, saying more than once that gun-control laws should not infringe on the rights of sportsmen.
He also didn’t show much love to Gov. Murphy’s executive order stopping bear hunts on state lands.
“There’s not too many things I’m in agreement with Gov. Murphy on, and I that’s probably not one of them either,” Hugin said. “In the sense that the last thing I saw was if we don’t do something, the bear population in new jersey in the next 4 years is going to double to 5,000 bears.”