Jeb Bush Didn't Receive The NRA Award He Claimed To Have Won Because, Well, It Doesn't Exist

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was never an NRA "statesman of the year" recipient. The former governor of Florida had "mistaken and conflated" the claim, his campaign spokesman told BuzzFeed News on Monday. As evidence of his firm support for Second Amendment rights, Bush has, on multiple occasions, shared a story about how then-NRA president Charlton Heston bestowed a rifle and a "statesman of the year" award on him in 2003. However, with a little old-fashioned sleuthing, BuzzFeed News found the NRA does not appear to have a "statesman of the year" award.

A spokesman for the Bush campaign claimed the former Florida governor was confusing multiple events, like the former chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa Kayne Robinson presenting him with a rifle on stage at the 2003 NRA convention in Florida and his more informal meeting with Heston that same day. The spokesman told BuzzFeed News:

In recounting the story, Jeb was mistaken and conflated multiple events unintentionally. 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. 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.

A tweet on Bush's official Twitter account, which mentioned his NRA "statesman of the year" honor, was edited after the error was noticed.

But evidence of Bush's tall tale can be found in recordings of comments he made in South Carolina last October. "In Florida, when I was governor, I was the NRA statesman of the year, one year it was on my highlight reel where Charlton Heston gave me a gun on the stage in front of 15,000 people. That was pretty cool, to be honest with you," Bush told the crowd.

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Interestingly enough, the staunch gun supporter was found to not actually own a firearm in a survey of 17 Republican presidential candidates conducted by The Telegraph in September. Despite a lack of interest in owning, the former governor does have an undeniable record of supporting and signing pro-gun legislation, like the "Stand Your Ground" law in 2005 and the "Six Pack of Freedom" — a series of six pro-gun laws passed in Florida in 2006. In campaigning, Bush regularly boasts his support of Second Amendment rights has earned him an A+ rating from the NRA.