On the campaign trail, Romney has insisted he is a strong proponent of gun rights, but has faced repeated questioning from conservatives who are skeptical over his record. The issue first gained traction during the former governor's last bid for the Republican nomination, when Mike Huckabee challenged Mitt Romney on the issue.

"He still believes in the Brady bill and in a ban on the so-called assault weapons," Huckabee told OneNewsNow in 2008. "[He's] calling himself a lifelong hunter when it turned out he never had a hunting license nor owned a gun."

Romney was widely lampooned during that cycle when a video was circulated in which he claimed to hunt "small varmints."

Those charges were repeated by Newt Gingrich's campaign, which launched a website earlier this month mocking Romney's stance on the Second Amendment. 

Tim Macy, the vice chairman of Gun Owners of America, has also hammered Romney on the issue earlier this week, penning an open letter questioning why Romney had not yet filled out a questionnaire from the organization.

"We sent you a questionnaire not once, not twice but three times now. What did you send back? A form letter stating you are pro-Second Amendment — with absolutely nothing to back up this laughable claim," Macy wrote. "As Governor, you were proudly anti-Second Amendment, but as you have with most issues, you have now changed your stripes to spots."

During Romney's time as governor of Massachusetts, he supported federal and state gun laws that restricted the sale of assault weapons and imposed waiting periods on firearm purchases. He has subsequently argued that he did so because the bills provided additional protections for gun owners and loosened other regulations to which hunters had objected.

But Romney has insisted that he supports gun rights, telling the crowd in Columbus that he was unpersuaded by the augments of those who would restrict gun sales.

"We have a right in this country to bear arms, and I know that there are people who think that somehow that should change and they keep looking for laws for a way to stop awful things from happening,” said Romney. “And there are awful things that happen, but there already are laws that are designed to protect people and unfortunately people violate the laws. So trying to find more laws to change bad behavior isn’t the answer, the answer is to find that bad behavior — the people who are inclined to bad behavior.

"My own view is let's protect the Second Amendment, let’s protect the right of Americans to bear arms whether for hunting, for sportsmen, for personal protection, for whatever legal purpose someone might have,” added Romney.