In a meeting with the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in which he continued to dissemble on LGBTQ rights and his plan to remake Montana into a regulation-free zone of pure capitalism, Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte did strike one absolutist position without trying to hide his views, arguing that college campuses would be better off with an armed student population:
Gianforte said he would allow guns on the grounds of Montana universities. “The Second Amendment is really clear: ‘Shall not be infringed,'” he said. “I think when you remove guns from an environment, you create victim zones,” he added.
Let’s put aside the macho fantasies of gun nuts like Gianforte who use terms like “victim zones” to describe college campuses because they imagine that, presented with a threat, they’d drop the intruder and go back to studying the works of Ayn Rand. That ignores the likely reality of an armed campus: far more gun accidents, more homicides, and more suicides. And as The Atlantic reports, there “were armed students at Umpqua Community College in Oregon on the day of its shooting last fall. Their presence did not deter the attack, nor did they halt it; the students wisely decided not to jump into the fray for fear it would compound the mayhem.”
Following the implementation of a campus carry law in Texas, some professors at the University of Houston warned colleagues that they should “avoid controversial subjects” and short-circuit heated discussions for fear of the new law. It would seem that the Second Amendment now trumps the First Amendment right to mock someone who believes that his gun rights trump discourse or the entirely idiotic idea that the Second Amendment, unlike all the others in the Bill of Rights, is somehow absolute.
Given Mr. Gianforte’s position on the Second Amendment, that “it shall not be infringed,” I have to hope that the media will ask for more clarification. Does he believe that airplanes are victim zones? Elementary classrooms? Courtrooms? Will he sign bills from the lunatic Montana Shooting Sports Association that would take away the property rights of business owners and mandate they allow guns in their facilities and parking lots? Will he sign bills that would allow concealed carry in bars and banks?
It’s important for Mr. Gianforte to hit all the right rhetorical notes for his absolutist gun base, but staking out the absolutist position that guns cannot be regulated is terrible policy that will endanger lives and hurt Montana’s business climate. It’s hard to imagine a Silicon Valley firm moving to a state that requires employers to allow employees to be armed, for instance.
And let’s not forget that Gianforte is wrong. Even Antonin Scalia argued, in his antediluvian fashion, that guns could be regulated:
“Some undoubtedly are [permissible] because there were some that were acknowledged at the time” the Constitution was written, Scalia said. He cited a practice from that era known as “frighting,” where people “carried around a really horrible weapon just to scare people, like a head axe or something. That was, I believe, a misdemeanor.”
“So yes, there are some limitations that can be imposed,” Scalia said. “What they are will depend on what the society understood were reasonable limitations at the time.”
Let’s hope that Montana media gets more answers from Gianforte on this subject. A great starting place would be to give him the list of bills sponsored by the Montana Shooting Sports Association and ask if they would have received his signature.