WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 03:  Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition at Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Report pokes holes in Jeb Bush's NRA award story
01:10 - Source: CNN

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Jeb Bush loves talking about how Moses once gave him a gun

But his campaign admits he's erred on facts about an award from a gun rights group

Manchester, New Hampshire CNN  — 

Jeb Bush loves talking about how Moses once gave him a gun.

A staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights, Bush frequently tells the story of being honored as National Rifle Association “Statesman of the Year” and being awarded a gun by Charlton Heston.

“You know who you’re lookin’ at here? You’re looking at the guy who won the NRA Statesman of the Year award,” Bush said last month 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.”

It’s a similar story he’s repeated as recently as Sunday in an interview with Fox News. He told it three other times in late December in New Hampshire – and in South Carolina in September and in Iowa in October. It’s embedded in his answer when he’s asked about gun control.

But it appears that story didn’t exactly happen, in a revelation first reported by BuzzFeed News.

Tim Miller, communications director for Bush’s campaign, said in a statement that Bush “was mistaken and conflated multiple events unintentionally.”

Bush indeed delivered the keynote address at the NRA’s annual meeting in 2003 when he was governor of Florida and was presented with a rifle – but not from the famous actor. And he wasn’t designated “Statesman of the Year.”

“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time, but it was Kayne Robinson who presented Jeb with the rifle for being keynote speaker,” Miller said in a statement originally made to BuzzFeed.

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Robinson was the new president at the NRA that year after Heston stepped down due to health problems. As noted by Miller, Heston was still at the convention but had to leave early. Marion Hammer, former president of the NRA, told CNN she was there at the 2003 convention and personally introduced Bush and Heston before Heston left.

“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,” Miller said.

It’s true Bush is considered a big supporter of gun rights. He opposes gun control proposals as a way to combat mass shootings, and after the San Bernardino attacks, he argued against banning no-fly members from buying guns. At a town hall in New Hampshire last month, he encouraged a woman who wanted to buy a gun to protect herself from terrorists.

“What we can’t do is restrict the rights of law abiding citizens,” he said. “I actually think people packin’ is part of the answer.”

As he believes with many solutions, he thinks Washington should stay out of the way.

“The federal government shouldn’t be involved in gun laws because the country’s very different,” he said in September at La Progresiva Presbyterian School in Miami, referring to the creation of new laws. “You go to a rural area, where guns are part of the culture, (and) to impose laws from Washington that are going to work in New York City, or work in a rural area, makes no sense.”

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Not long after the Charleston church shooting last summer, Bush touted his record on guns during an appearance in Nevada, saying the way to combat gun violence is to crack down on criminals, not firearms.

As governor, he signed into law Stand Your Ground protections and enacted the “10-20-Life” law, which issues a minimum 10-year sentence for anyone who pulls a gun while committing a crime, 20 years for pulling the trigger during a crime and 25 years to life for injuring or killing someone by firing a gun.

The NRA did not respond to a request for comment on this story.