There’s A Right Way And A Wrong Way To Talk About Guns.

Remember back in 2011 when everyone’s alt-right darling, Sarah Palin, adorned her Facebook with a map of the United States containing cross-hairs over states with gun-control Democrats that she wanted to defeat? One of her targets was Gabby Giffords, who was shot down the same week.  In case you’ve forgotten the pictorial assault by Palin on decency and common sense, here it is again:

SARAH-PALIN-TARGET-LIST

Of course it hardly came as a surprise that someone as dumb, hateful and vicious as Palin would stoop so low as to try and generate political (and financial) support by appealing to the twisted minds of some folks who enjoy thinking about inflicting violence with a gun. But don’t assume that using a gun for political messaging is just a ploy for the Right. Because we now have a Democrat who claims to be a real liberal and is doing exactly the same thing.

I’m referring to the Democratic candidate in Montana’s election today to replace Ryan Zinke. The man who’s running, Rob Quist, is a well-known country song writer who says he wants to go to Washington to fight for jobs, health care, all the usual Democratic stuff, but he’s also a strong 2nd-Amendment supporter who believes that coming out as a gun guy could tilt things his way.

Actually, it was his opponent, Greg Gianforte, who ran an attack ad against Quist because he once made an offhand comment to a reporter about the need to ‘register’ guns. Since he was just defending universal background checks, Quist had no idea what he was talking about at all. But once Gianforte began pushing the idea that Quist was anti-gun, sooner or later the Democrat needed to respond in kind. And his response has taken the form of television ads in which he stands there with what he calls a rifle that has been in the family for a ‘long time,’ even though the gun actually looks brand new. And at the end of the ad he raises the rifle and shoots out a television set that’s playing an anti-Quist ad, saying that by shooting the gun, he’s ‘defending your rights.’

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              Using a gun to defend anything, in particular political rights, is to stoop to a level that is just as malicious and uninformed as Sarah Palin’s Facebook page.  And the stupidity of this ad is now matched by an op-ed which appeared today in Politico Magazine by a writer named Bill Scher, who may be the last word on politics but doesn’t know anything about guns. Scher  criticizes Progressives because they haven’t come out against one of their own who is talking pro-gun. And this is a big problem for the Blue Team, according to Scher, because Democrats at the national level sometimes find themselves in opposition to Blue candidates who need to shore up local support by hiding or soft-peddling their opposition to guns.

Gee, what a surprise that a majority of the guns in this country happen to be located in 13 Confederate states, 4 border states and the rural sections of 5 Midwestern states, all of which contain populations that consistently vote red. Gee, what a surprise that the NRA ran most of their ads in these regions because this is where NRA members mostly live.

If Bill Scher really believes that he’s discovered a new fault-line which makes gun rights a toxic issue for the Blue Team, he’s actually exposed a much bigger problem for the Reds because while the DNC has kept quiet about the pro-gun messaging by Quist, can you imagine what the RNC would do and say if any Republican politician came out and questioned the validity of beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ What Quist’s ad team should have done was consult with one of the gun-sense organizations to help craft a message that would disarm the pro-gun opposition but still properly raise the issue of guns and risk. Even Donald Trump used the phrase “responsible gun owners’ when he came to the NRA.

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An Election In Montana And The Democrat Is Pro-Gun. Huh?

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?

montana            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.]