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US Presidential Candidates Graded on Gun Positions

Jeb Bush, a Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor, campaigns at the Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. firearms plant in Newport, New Hampshire, Jan. 21, 2016.

Candidates, in national and state races, covet, fear or scorn grades given by the National Rifle Association for their positions on firearms.

Marks for 2016 presidential contenders will be issued once the political parties have chosen their nominees, the NRA said. But some candidates previously have been graded.

Among Republicans, Jeb Bush earned an A+ rating as Florida’s governor by authorizing the nation’s first "stand your ground" law in 2005. Ted Cruz got the top rating as a U.S. senator from Texas. Chris Christie collected a C as governor of New Jersey, a heavily Democratic state with some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws. Christie said he’s seeking "the right balance" between public safety and gun rights and, in his concurrent quest for the White House, in November vetoed a measure to toughen a ban on firearms possession by convicted domestic violence offenders.

Among top Democrats, Hillary Clinton earned the NRA's F rating as a U.S. senator from New York for, among other things, voting to reverse gun manufacturers’ immunity from lawsuits. (She was endorsed by two prominent gun control groups in January; husband Bill Clinton, as president, signed an assault weapons ban in 1994 that expired a decade later.) Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont boasted of a D-minus rating from the NRA for supporting background checks and opposing the gun show loophole.

Sanders, who represents a largely rural state, has drawn some liberals' criticism for his votes on guns. He has said his position is more nuanced.