As a community in Oregon has had to shut down its schools because a band of self-described patriots who’ve been fed a steady diet of anti-government rhetoric has chosen to “occupy” a federal facility, Montana’s Congressman Ryan Zinke gave them comfort, arguing today that the Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States was a tyrant. According to Commander Zinke:
President Obama’s action to limit law-abiding Montanans’ Second Amendment rights is no surprise given his tyrannical record, but it should still worry every American who values their rights and liberties – whether that be the right to free speech, free press, privacy, protection from illegal search and seizure, or any other enshrined in the Constitution. Barack Obama is the president, not the king.
Zinke, who no doubt composed his statement days before Obama announced his initiatives, might have some trouble explaining the horrifying threat the Obama proposal entails: the radical notion that law enforcement should mandate background checks required by law and the even more authoritarian decision to adequately staff those checks. Obama, that tyrant, thinks that the FBI should check to ensure that people who have not committed crimes or who suffer from mental illness that should disqualify them from gun ownership shouldn’t be able to get them.
Zinke’s histrionic pandering to the gun lobby and gun nuts would be bit more compelling had Zinke not, in the past, endorsed more restrictions on guns than the President introduced today. In 2008, Zinke had a 42% rating from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund. That same NRA initially responded to President Obama’s proposals with a shrug, telling the New York Times that there was nothing in the proposal:
“That’s it, really?” They’re not really doing anything.”
Most pertinent to today’s discussion is Zinke’s position on background checks. When asked in 2008 if background checks be required on gun sales between private citizens at gun shows, Zinke stood down tyranny and answered: “Undecided.”
You don’t have to believe me or even the NRA. Ask Montana Republicans, who know that Zinke did not endorse the right’s view on the Second Amendment.
Former Congressman Rick Hill said of Zinke that he couldn’t be trusted on the Second Amendment, and noted that he had an 8% rating from the Montana Shooting Sports Association.
Montana’s chief gun advocate Gary Marbut had this to say about Mr. Zinke in 2014:
When Zinke was in the Legislature, he and I had two or three spirited conversations wherein he voiced the strong opinion that .50 caliber rifles are far too dangerous for civilians to be allowed to own. He felt very strongly about that then. Then, about the time he announced his candidacy for the U.S. House, he sent me a card saying he’d changed his position on .50 caliber rifles. Yes, a sudden, election season conversion.
So, there you have it. While the Montana press dutifully prints Zinke’s anti-government, anti-logic screed today, what they won’t tell you is that Mr. Zinke has endorsed gun control in the past, has waffled on background checks, and offers the most egregiously childish attacks on the President because he knows he won’t get called out on them.
Meanwhile, more kids get shot in our schools and more militia wannabes can point to statements like those offered by our member of Congress to support their acts of insurrection.