Today in his campaign web sitemlaunch, Ryan Zinke declared his unwavering support for the Second Amendment:
As a founding director of the Montana Firearms Institute, I strongly support the Second Amendment and have fought in combat to ensure that the right of Americans to bear arms shall not be infringed. Recent actions by the federal government aimed at restricting access and ownership of guns and ammunition has compelled me to resist any further federal gun mandate and I remain concerned over our fundamental right to privacy.
I wonder if he plans to tell potential Republican voters that his position used to be far less clear. He told Project Vote Smart that he was
- undecided on requiring background checks at gun shows.
- undecided on current levels of state enforcement of gun legislation.
- undecided on current state restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
He also told PVS that he believed gun ownership was primarily for hunting and personal protection:
I strongly support the right to bear arms for hunting and personal protection. I believe that background checks are prudent and necessary. I also believe that the sale of heavy weapons and specialized military weapon systems should be banned for public use. In most cases, I believe that in areas of high security, such as courtrooms, airports, and military bases, that concealed weapons should not be allowed.
That’s relatively moderate rhetoric, but certainly not in line with contemporary Republican thinking that access to guns is an unfettered right—and one essential to protecting citizens from the tyranny of the federal government.
Of course, back in the 2011 Legislature, Zinke was even more circumspect about his support of gun rights:
He’s pro-gun but he doesn’t believe in the public ownership of military-level weapons. And he says there are some places where guns just don’t belong, like schools.
The truth is that I think Zinke is probably right in supporting some sensible restrictions on gun ownership, but his positions are assuredly not in line with those of Montana Republicans. Will they really support a pro-choice candidate who supports increased restrictions on gun ownership?