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August 23, 2018

Flip Flops Don’t Wear Well in Montana

By Larry Keane

You’ve got to be careful with footwear in Montana. It’s a rugged land, with imposing mountains, ranches that spread out on the horizon, and rocky river bottoms.

In other words, it’s not a place you’d want to be seen waltzing around in flip flops. There are also political flip-flops, of course and that’s the fashion as of late for Gov. Steve Bullock. He recently told CNN he would support a ban on modern sporting rifles.

It seemed even Montana media couldn’t believe what they were hearing, so they gave him the opportunity just days later to clarify his position. Instead of backing out of the mess he made, he stepped in it further.

“When I view an assault weapons ban, it’s sort of military, semiautomatic, typically removable clips, a magazine of 10 or more — it’s like the AR-15s,” Gov. Bullock said. He thinks that’s fair, since he said that there would be no taking away weapons from law-abiding gun owners and no ban on semiautomatic weapons that are conventionally used by hunters.

But Just a Couple Years Ago…

That’s a far cry from what he said just two years ago. When he was running for re-election in 2016, a campaign spokesman said, “Steve Bullock supports Montana’s current laws when it comes to gun rights. He opposes universal background checks, he has expanded gun rights as governor and he will always stand up for the Second Amendment.”

And there’s this. In 2016, Gov. Bullock spoke with Randy Newberg on his talk radio show, “Unfiltered.” He reflected on his pro-Second Amendment record as Montana’s attorney general. He explained he believed the Second Amendment was a “personal right” reaffirmed by the 2008 Heller decision, and declined to have the state become a party in suits to ban modern sporting rifles, what he called at the time “assault weapons.”

“I joined a whole number of states saying, ‘we’re not going to do that’ because ultimately it’s a Second Amendment right,” he told Randy Newberg. “It’s part of our hunting heritage. It’s also part of our defense heritage, personal defense.”

Listen to him explain his stance on modern sporting rifles with Randy Newberg at time marker 58:15.

Bullock Changes with the Weather

In 2016, Gov. Bullock knew that modern sporting rifles were lawfully owned for hunting, target shooting and personal self-defense. In 2018, after talk began about his possible 2020 presidential run and between visits to the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, he now says he believes America’s most popularly-owned rifle should be banned.

This isn’t the first time we’ve watched Gov. Bullock dance around in his flip-flops. In May, he called for universal background checks, but he’s failed to press for FixNICS reporting reform. Yet, Montana ranks second-worst for states for submitting disqualifying adjudicated mental health records to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which retailers rely upon to ensure prohibited persons are not allowed to legally purchase firearms. So, Gov. Bullock wants background checks when a grandfather passes down a family shotgun to a grandson, but he doesn’t want to submit the state’s disqualifying mental health records to the FBI so the dangerously mentally ill can’t buy guns.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation initiated our FixNICS effort in the states in 2013. By 2017, we had successfully changed the law in 16states resulting in the number of records submitted to NICS increasing by 200 percent to nearly 5 million, from about 1.7 million in 2012. Earlier this year NSSF worked with Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) and got the bipartisan Fix NICS Act passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Trump. This legislation provides resources to aid the States in uploading disqualifying records to the FBI.

If Gov. Bullock was serious about wanting to reduce gun violence, something we all want, he would work to get FixNICS legislation passed in Montana instead of trying to trample on Montanans’ Second Amendment rights by banning commonly owned firearms that until his recent trips to Iowa and New Hampshire he believed were protected by the Second Amendment. And if Gov. Bullock is going to walk that line out to Montana’s ranches, flip-flops are going to make it hard to scrape off what he will step in, metaphorically speaking, of course.

You may also be interested in: Modern Sporting Rifle

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