Montanans Are Rushing to Buy Guns, Says the IR with No Evidence

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I honestly don’t even know how to process the terrible story that’s run in the Montana Standard and Independent Record, analyzing the impact of President Obama’s speech today about the need for more stringent background checks for gun purchases in the United States. With feverish rhetoric and wholly unsupported claims, it suggests that the state took off work en masse to buy semiautomatic weapons once Obama made his remarks.

Let’s start with the opening two sentences:

Sweeping executive action on gun control has Montanans rushing to add to their gun cabinets, even as their elected leaders take aim at President Obama. Obama on Tuesday unveiled a spate of new measures meant to tighten law enforcement’s grip on firearm sales.

Without any support in the article, other than overheated partisan claims that contained no substance, the opening suggests that Obama took “sweeping action” and that his speech signaled an effort to “tighten law enforcement’s grip” on legitimate gun buyers. While that language might be appropriate in an NRA press release, nothing about what President Obama today remotely qualifies as a sweeping set of changes and certainly doesn’t represent a dramatic increase in the power of law enforcement. As I noted earlier today, even the NRA initially responded by suggesting nothing substantial changed after the Obama proposal, and The Atlantic argued persuasively tonight that responses to the proposals were overhyped. Either way, though, characterizing Obama’s moves as sweeping should have been presented as a viewpoint of someone in the story, not as a fact. The language simply doesn’t match reality.

Despite Representative Zinke having a record of supporting gun control measures, he was quoted as condemning President Obama’s tyranny, without any context or analysis. And the story doesn’t even provide a quote from Senator Tester, who told the Great Falls Tribune:

“I’m looking closely at this to make sure that it doesn’t infringe on our Second Amendment rights or erode our western values while also protecting us from folks who would do us harm,” Tester said. Tester noted in his email that he supports closing the loophole that allows people to buy guns at gun shows without a background check and voted for the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey bill on background checks in 2013.

Worse, I think, is the claim that Montanans are “rushing to add to their gun cabinets” as a result of the Obama speech. The evidence? That there were three more gun sales than normal for a Tuesday at one gun shop in Helena—and the two people quoted in support of that thesis either didn’t know about the speech at all, or decided to purchase a gun without having watched it. I’m not an expert in statistical analysis, but a rush to buy guns that is not.

There’s a reason gullible gun enthusiasts are convinced that President Obama wants to seize their guns, despite all evidence to the contrary: the right wing media and gun lobby keep scaring them. It certainly doesn’t help when the mainstream media, which already hypes crime, spreads that message without evidence and without any context.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

17 Comments

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  • I can’t speak to the actual numbers of retail gun sales that happened in MT yesterday. But what I can predict is numerous private transferees happened.

    I recorded and listed my small collection and drew up sales receipts ($1.00 apiece) to my kids. I also had them sign the paperwork with the date and time which preceded Obama’s Executive Order.

    Upon doing the inventory i noticed a few firearms missing, so I also filed a missing weapons list at the same time.

  • Time for my favorite George Washington quote.

    “When a nation mistrusts its citizens with guns, it is sending a clear message. It no longer trusts its citizens because such a government has evil plans.”

  • The same story ran in the Missoulian (Page One, above the fold). What a pandering hack job.

    I was also disappointed by Gov. Bullock’s comment: ” … But this discussion is too important for the President to circumvent Congress with the stroke of a pen.” Bullshit. Even this mild gun reform action wouldn’t have made it through our NRA bought-and-paid-for Congress. I expect this kind of crap from Daines, Zinke and Fox, not the governor. Pres. Obama did the only thing he could.

  • Geez, I hate to agree with sWeed, but he’s right on this one. Every time O’Bama has a gun fart, it’s a bull market. AND I SELL! And sell some more. For you see, I’m a lib, but I’m also a gun nut. Hell, what lib and true Montanan is NOT a gun nut?! (at least at my age). We like guns. I deal in guns. I talk guns. And I keep my finger un the gun pulse. And yes, when O’Bama has a gun fart, it makes my day! Go ahead, O’Bama, make my day! (note to FBI. that is not a threat. just a request that O’Bama keep the price of my guns high!)

    You see, it’s just pay back. Hell, during one time of O’Bama’s gun farts, I couldn’t buy ammo for friggin’ YEARS! Ask sWeed! You couldn’t even buy .22 ammo! And THAT, my lib friends, truly IS un-American! When you can’t even buy .22 ammo to take your grandkids plinking in the pasture, you KNOW the country is flucked up!

    But before I ramble too far into the north forty, libs, wake up. Realize that guns are a dead issue. We love our guns. And for good reason. SOME of us defended the country with guns. Hell, I never thought at the time that I’d have to defend guns too! Hell, they’re just tools, like any other tool! They put meat on the table, they make bad guys think twice, and the make the gummint rethink sendin’ troops into do what the cops can’t! Is that so bad? Not to my way of thinking.

    So, here’s the deal. I have listed some guns that I no longer want on our local consumer press. I put a good price on them, and also included the words “price is firm”. I have sold tons of guns in the past. So I’ll let you know how it goes. The last time I listed a gun, it was gone be FORE the paper came out because a buddy from work bought it. But as the ad ran, I sold some more to folks who were interested in the ad gun.

    Libs, wake up. We truly do NOT want any gummint agency messing with our guns. And that just ain’t gonna change any time soon. Hell, even my buddy Bernie gets it. So, the question remains. Why don’t you??

    sWeed, how’s things down in your country? Got snow? Are your trees coming back? Billings is too big for you now, dude. Sell your place and get in the outback while you still got a chance!

      • Would that be Agnes O’Leary’s? She had a nice place out your way. I spent my misspent youth trespassing across her wonderful land.

        • Agnes bordered us to the south. Dirt Creek originated on us and flowed into her place. Shot tons of Shaprtails and Mule deer along the creek. The parents and uncles sold out 20 years ago, its now mini ranchettes.

    • I think it’s not unreasonable to ask that we have background checks in place, something the NRA used to call for. I think it’s not unreasonable to ask that background checks be enforced.

      That the bedwetters at Fox and the Republican Party think regulation is confiscation and want to play dress-up soldier is no reason not to have sensible policy.

      • I disagree, Don. Allow me to repeat. Gun control is a dead issue! It’s over. Look, I haven’t yet looked into the details of his current proposal, but the two words that jump out at me are “executive action”…… on guns. This is a false flag designed to hand elections to the Pubes. Guns are dead. Dead issue. So, why beat a dead horse? THAT is the question.

        Background checks? What exactly do they accomplish? Other than handing even more elections to the ReePubes? I suggest that we look for REAL issues that contain a wee bit more life than guns. Dead issues equal dead end.

        I would argue that there is NO sensible argument on guns. The issue was decided BY THE PEOPLE long ago. As well it should be. And it has nothing to do with dress up soldiers. That horse ain’t goin’ back in the barn. And any truly thoughtful politico understands that.

        • I think you’re wrong. The vast majority of people support background checks. Hell, the majority of members of the NRA support background checks.

          The only reason that President Obama had to use an executive action is because Congress is so chickenshit afraid of the NRA that they won’t even allow federal research into gun violence.

          Sensible restrictions on guns, which have been in place in this country since its inception, are not unreasonable.

        • Hate to say it Don but Scary’s right. If backgrounds checks were favored by Montanans Cowgirl and the clapping seals would be all over it.

          They realize the position the electorate has in this debate.

          • In Montana, the gun nuts are winning. No doubt. Nationally, though, the public overwhelmingly supports background checks.

            We’re just blessed with political leaders who think screaming “TYRANNY” is useful.

            • Don, when guns are outlawed, ONLY Blackwater will have guns! Think about that. It CAN happen here, amigo. (Sinclair Lewis I believe). We are now a full-fledged dystopia. And until we return to normalcy, it’s best to be armed. Hey, I don’t make our reality, I just report on it.

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