Fung and Block: Do Either Represent GOP on Guns?

Saturday, February 15, 2014
Kate Nagle, GoLocalProv Contributor

The battle for the GOP nomination for Governor may include a shootout at the gun range. For most GOP candidates for office, the clear assertion of support for the 2nd Amendment is a given. But, for candidates Allan Fung and Ken Block their support for gun rights range from changing to never existed.

Where do the Republican candidates for Governor stand on gun rights -- and what do gun owners and second amendment supporters think of their positions?

Following the revelation that Cranston Mayor Allan Fung sponsored and voted for an effort to ban assault weapons in Cranston in 2004 while on the City Council, both Fung and Republican gubernatorial opponent Ken Block are attempting to articulate their positions as they relate to gun owners.

Historically, gun right advocates have been a significant and core element of the Republican Party and one of the litmus test issues that separate Republicans from Democrats.

"I can only tell you from what I've been hearing -- I'm an active pistol competitor -- the consensus is not good for the two republican candidates. Most of the people are not happy with the choices. The concerns we have here, are the same concerns we have every election. When someone says they're going to run, they turn over a "new leaf" --- and then they get elected and stab us in the back," said John Francis of Competition Shooting Supplies in Pawtucket.

The store is listed on the National Rifle Association's Web site as a 2nd Amendment Center in RI.

"I haven't looked too deeply at all the candidates- - I do know that Gina Raimondo is not pro-gun, she's for fairly strict gun control. Clay Pell hasn't spoken too much about it. On the Republican side, I haven't heard much from either candidate (Fung or Block). From what I hear, they've both been in favor of bans on so-called assault weapons and high capacity magazines," said Francis.

"This is of concern to me. It's not that that the majority of gun owners don't want regulations - there needs to be some.  After Newtown, you had calls nationwide to ban magazines, high capacity guns. It wasn't going to solve anything. They're hardly ever used in this state in criminal activities, these military style ones in question. The primary choice of criminals are handguns, and aren't bought legally. How is it the fault of law abiding gun owners, who adhere to background checks, waiting period?" said Francis.

Who is the real supporter 

Fung who came under fire last week for his votes as a member of the Cranston City Council, is now redefining his gun stance. Regarding his vote in 2004 supporting a Cranston City Council non-binding resolution regarding specific firearms. Fung said, “At the time of the non-binding resolution, I had never used a firearm and was unfamiliar with the differences among specific firearms.”

Fung who has served both as a member of the City Council and as a Mayor claims to have a change of opinion regarding law ownership and gun laws.

“Over time, I became more familiar with the topic. I have friends who actively shoot recreationally, and they encouraged me to spend time at firing ranges. As a result, I have learned more about some of the firearms referenced in that resolution and have become a recreational shooter. The real issue is ensuring that guns don’t end up in the hands of criminals, while upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. This is why I stood with Governor Mitt Romney in 2012, not Barack Obama,” said Fung.

The last reference a clear point of differentiation between Fung’s support of GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential Election versus Ken Block’s endorsement of Democrat Barack Obama.

Here is how the candidates stack up on leading gun issues:

1. Do you support a ban on assault weapons?

FUNG: No, in years since being a councilman, I've come to understand the issue much more comprehensively. Today I would not support such legislation.

BLOCK: As Governor I have no intention or desire to change the gun laws that presently exist in the State of Rhode Island. Our state already has significant regulations on those who own guns.

2. Does you believe there should be additional gun restrictions and, if so, which proposed laws does he support or does he believe that the existing gun laws are sufficient?

FUNG: I do not support any additional gun restrictions and I believe that current laws are sufficient

BLOCK: When Treasurer Raimondo pandered to the far left by divesting pension fund assets from legitimate, law-abiding, American gun companies, she did something that even Mayor Bloomberg wouldn’t do. And I was the only candidate who stood up to defend the 2nd Amendment. This is important. It demonstrates a willingness to defend people’s rights. I think that fixing the economy to bring back jobs is the single most important issue in this election, but people also need to know that when the government impinges on their lives, the Governor is going to stand up for their rights."

3. Are you a member of the NRA?



4. Do you own a gun? 

FUNG: No (but does enjoy going to the range with friends for recreational activities.)


  • 10. Can Block convince voters he is more than a third party player?


    To win in the GOP primary, Block is going to need to convince GOP primary voters that his ideals align with the fundamental beliefs of the Republican Party. 


    He did get a political gift.  As GoLocalProv reported - Blocks opponent in the GOP primary, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung has been a consistent donor for a decade to many of the top Democrats in the Party.


    Both Block and Fung will be challenged to explain their GOP credentials.

  • 9. Is Block too much of a techno-candidate?


    Block, the founder of a software company, love to talk about technology solutions to public policy problems. He is going to have to define his solutions to problems in a tangible way.  Often, voters connect to simple themes, "Hope and Change" or from "Head Start to Harvard." 


    Block is going to need to be able to show he can connect to all Rhode Islanders - we are a retail political state.

  • 8. Can Block raise money?


    Block has demonstrated he is serious about running - he has already invested $500,000 of his own money to win the GOP primary, but he will need an estimated $3 million to win the primary and General Election next November.


    To date, his fundraising base has been small and while Fung is no Gina Raimondo in fundraising, he does have a modest Republican fundraising base.

  • 7. Will Block defend the behavior of National Republicans?


    If 15 months from now Ted Cruz works tirelessly to close the federal government over the implementation of Obamacare, will GOP Governor Ken Block speak out on the issue? 


    Will Block praise or criticize Cruz? In the primary, conservative voters may want him to praise Cruz and in the General election, the majority of voters may want him to condemn Cruz.

  • 6. Can Block attract RI GOP leaders?


    A few weeks ago Fung announced an advisory group of prominent Republicans.  The announcement gave Fung's efforts some momentum. Block would pick up a lot of credibility if he were to peel some Fung supporters over to his team.


    In addition, a number of leading Republicans have yet to make an announcement - if they break to Block it may create momentum.

  • 5. Can Block connect with voters in the General Election?


    Assuming Block beat Fung in a GOP primary and went on to face a progressive Democrat like Providence Mayor Angel Taveras or rising star Clay Pell, can Block work the Greek Festival in Cranston or the Scituate Art Festival as well as these Democrats?


    Will undecided voters connect to Block?

  • 4. Will Block's lack of previous elected office help or hinder?


    It can be argued that never having been elected before could be perceived as a negative.


    Sure, Governor Don Carcieri was never previously elected to office and Governor Bruce Sundlun had only been elected to the state's Constitutional Congress, but voters may want to be sure that Block will know a federal emergency declaration from a new software version - or will each new storm be deemed Sandy 2.0 and so on.

  • 3. Is Block the smartest guy in the room?


    Make no mistake about it, Block is smart. Business smart, policy smart, but could he be too smart and then not be able to connect to voters.


    Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar (so was Gina Raimondo), but one thing about Bill Clinton was that he could play the role of a good ol' boy as good as anyone. He could make any voter feel right at home.


    Block will need to channel his intelligence into a language and approach that connects to the CEO he is asking to support his effort as equally as asking a unemployed mom in Pawtucket.

  • 2. How will he handle the plethora of special interests?


    This time Block will have to answer the questionnaire from the FOP, the Right-to-Life groups, the Environment Council, MADD, the Teamsters, The Northern RI Chamber of Commerce, NEA-RI, arts advocacy groups, the NAACP, and you get the picture.


    Consistency will matter. One group's endorsement will spark another groups condemnation. Mr. Block, welcome to the 2014 governor's race.

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