2020 Senate Race Guns Montana Politics Steve Daines US Politics

Does Steve Daines Support the Agenda of the Militia-Backed Gun Owners of America to Put Guns in Our Schools?

Steve Daines and the reactionary Gun Owners of America have been locked in a romance since his political career began The organization, far more radical than the NRA and led for forty years by militia and white supremacist figure Larry Pratt, endorsed Daines in his first bid for Congress and in every subsequent run.

Daines, for his part, has fundraised for the group, asking people to donate to its cause, going so far as to invoke the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting as a reason to fear gun control advocates.

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It seems to be a mutualistic relationship: they raise money for each other, and then Daines turns around and votes on their side for every gun control measure that comes before Congress.

And while I certainly would hope the Montana media would ask Daines why he would take the endorsement of and fundraise for an organization tied to the white nationalist movement, perhaps they can start with a more pertinent question right now: does Daines agree with their response to the El Paso and Dayton shootings?

The Gun Owners of America oppose even the President’s call for Red Flag laws to restrict gun ownership by people adjudicated to be dangerous. From their press release today:

“This is why GOA is calling on the President, Congress and state legislatures to utterly reject any calls for gun control, including Universal Background Checks, so-called ‘Assault Weapon’ Bans, and so-called Red Flag laws.

Not only that, but they are calling for more weapons in public spaces, including our schools:

As a solution, GOA calls on Congress to immediately take up and pass H.R. 38, the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, as well as H.R. 3200, the Safe Students Act (to repeal gun-free schools). GOA also calls upon state legislatures to immediately take up and pass Constitutional Carry legislation. Legislators should move to end gun-free zones — places where honest citizens cannot carry firearms.

The Keeping Student Safe Act referenced here by the Gun Owners of America goes far behind the dangerous idea of having more school staff armed and strikes down all “provisions of federal criminal law that prohibit the possession or discharge of a firearm in a school zone.” Combined with their call for “Constitutional Carry” legislation, the Gun Owners of America are advocating that our schools will be safer places if anyone can walk on school campuses with weapons.

There are a lot of great questions Steve Daines should probably answer for us:

  • Does he oppose Red Flag laws or will he back President Trump’s call for them?
  • Does he believe that schools would be safer if anyone could come on campuses armed?
  • Does he oppose universal background checks?
  • Can he explain why he both supported and took support from an organization that was led by a dangerous militia-connected white nationalist?
  • Does he feel any sense of shame about using the deaths of the kids at Sandy Hook to raise money for such an organization?

I’d love to ask Senator Daines these questions, but he’s afraid to meet with Montanans in town halls, so it’s incumbent on the media to ask and report back on his answers. As the wave of killings grows in the United States, Steve Daines has a choice, whether he’ll support the reactionary gun lobby or the safety of people in Montana.

And we deserve to know what side he’s chosen.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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.

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