After a strong showing in the Kansas special election and an almost-win in Georgia, the spotlight’s on Montana where another contest to fill the seat vacated by now-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. And believe it or not, when the campaign first started, both candidates had previously expressed views that were not at all pro-gun, and this in a state where just about everyone owns a gun. But now that the election is coming down to the wire, of course out come the negative ads, and what better way to siphon off a few votes from the other side than to attack your opponent’s position on gun ownership which will surely rile a few residents in the Big Sky state?
Back in January, a country singer and composer named Rob Quist threw his hat in the ring to run for the state’s lone congressional seat, and made the mistake of telling a reporter that he didn’t think it was a big deal to register guns because, after all, we register our cars. Nobody made a big deal out of it at the time, but when the Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte, realized he was running behind in pre-election polls, he unleashed an attack ad which accused Quist of advocating a national gun registry that would include all kinds of personal information about anyone who owned a gun.
Now Quist has responded with an attack ad of his own in which he says that Gianforte is a millionaire businessman from New Jersey attacking his ‘Montana values,’ and of course the values which Quist is promising to defend are the cherished 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The ad shows Quist standing behind a pickup truck, holding a 30-30 rifle and saying that, “for generations, this old rifle has protected my family’s ranch.” He then loads the rifle and continues, “In Congress, I’ll protect your right to bear arms because it’s my right too.”
Actually, if you look closely at the rifle’s sideplate and you know something about guns, you’ll realize that the rifle being loaded and then fired by Quist couldn’t have been in his family for ‘generations’ because it had to have been manufactured sometime in the last 14 or 15 years. Okay, we’ll forgive this banjo-player for a little bit of stagecraft in filming this ad, but what we won’t forgive for is an interview by his opponent, who defended his support of the 2nd Amendment by stating that he did not believe in extending background checks to secondary sales because attempts to regulate guns only ‘penalized’ law-abiding gun owners.
I wouldn’t mind if guns and gun violence were a central issue in any political campaign. And if that were to happen, I would expect the Republican candidate to push out the usual party line about how gun regulations only hurt the ‘good guys’ and don’t stop the ‘bad guys’ from getting their hands on guns. But when the Democratic candidate tries to out-gun his opponent and tells the voters to vote for him because he’ll go to Washington and protect their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ then we have a real problem because I’m sorry, but that’s not what Democrats are supposed to say.
And the issue of guns getting into the ‘wrong hands’ is a particular problem in Montana, believe it or not, because even though the Big Sky state experiences few gun homicides or assaults each year, it happens to rank 4th highest in the rate of suicides, and is the number one state in the entire United States when it comes to suicides committed with guns.
Rob Quist should be ashamed of himself for pandering to the gun vote even if there’s no other vote in Big Sky. And if Democrats want to get elected by putting themselves to the right of the party of Trump, then they deserve to lose because that’s not a way to win. I’m happy to send some dough to Jon Ossoff in Georgia but Rob Quist just lost any chance of getting a donation from me. [Thanks to Ladd Everitt.]