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NRA gives Earley stamp of approval

The National Rifle Association gave Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark L. Earley a passing grade yesterday for his stance on gun control. Earley received a letter grade of A-.

According to a letter sent to NRA members, Earley "was an ally of Virginia gun owners as Attorney General, leading the way in launching a statewide Project Exile, and in fighting back against the reckless city lawsuits intended to bankrupt the gun industry."

The NRA also gave Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark R. Warner a letter grade of C.

The NRA usually grades all the statewide and legislative candidates based on their public record on gun control.

In its ratings, candidates receive grades ranging from an A+ to an F.

An A+ denotes a candidate who not only supports issues important to the NRA, but also vigorously promotes the Second Amendment - the right to bear arms. A letter grade of A denotes a solidly pro-gun candidate.

The NRA's endorsement, however, did not come without some criticism directed toward Earley. The organization noted Earley's support of a gun-rationing limit, which he supported during his term as a state senator.

The letter, however, noted that "this issue stands alone as one on which we disagree."

The Earley camp said they were glad to gain the NRA's endorsement.

"We are pleased to have their support," Earley deputy press secretary Yooree Oh said.

While the Warner camp was not pleased with the its low grade, it insisted Warner still has the support of sportsmen around the state.

"Mark Warner takes a back seat to no one when it comes to support of the Second Amendment," Warner campaign spokesman Mo Elliethee said.

According to Elliethee, a new organization - Sportsmen for Warner - announced its formation yesterday.

The new group consists of sportsmen from around Virginia.

The NRA also published its report card on other Virginia candidates for the state's upcoming general elections in its November issue of one of its magazines, "American Hunter."

Republican lieutenant governor candidate Jay Katzen and Republican attorney general candidate Jerry W. Kilgore received grades of A+ and A, respectively.

But the NRA did not endorse either candidate for governor in the November edition of its magazine.

According to NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA waited to endorse a candidate until they could review each candidate's record and public appearances.

"Our wish is to provide our members with the most accurate information possible," Arulanandam said.

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