The Missoulian: Bullock ads claim support for the Second Amendment

Aug 24, 2020 | op-ed

Dr. John Lott has another piece up at the Missoulian newspaper about the Senate election in Montana. The print version of the article won’t appear for a couple of weeks, but this version is on line at the paper’s website.

For the last couple of weeks, Steve Bullock has bombarded the airwaves with ads claiming that he supports gun ownership. “Bullock took on his own party to defend our Second Amendment rights,” claimsone ad, while another features his young son, Cam, saying, “He was by my side when I got my first buck.” Ads over the weekend warned voters not to be fooled on this issue: “Out-of-state secret money groups can lie all they want, the truth is [Bullock] will always keep Montanans safe.” 

Those are just some ads that Bullock has run on gun control.

But, with an F-rating from the NRA, it is no wonder that Bullock is spending so much money trying to convince Montanans that he shares their values. He just hopes that people will forget about his gun control stances when he ran for president last year.

When Bullock ran for president, he quickly came out in support of a long list of gun control laws: a ban on some semi-automatic guns based on their appearance, Red Flag laws that let judges take away people’s guns without a hearing, higher age limits on gun ownership, and bans on magazines that can hold more than 15 bullets.

The “assault weapon ban” might fly in California and New York where people don’t know very much about guns, but that isn’t true in Montana. While Joe Biden and Kamala Harriscall AR-15s “weapons of war,” Montanans understand that the semi-automatic AR-15 merely looks like the M-16 machine gun that was made famous in the Vietnam War. No military in the world uses the AR-15. 

Most guns owned by Americans are semi-automatics. To ban some of them based on their looks makes no sense. The AR-15 uses the same sort of bullet as small-game hunting rifles, fires with the same rapidity (one bullet per pull of the trigger), and inflicts equal damage.

Indeed, the AR-15’s .223 inch rounds are banned for deer-hunting in most U.S. states. That’s because the small bullet is likely to prolong the animal’s suffering by wounding rather than killing it. 

Bullock’s support of Red Flag laws is troubling. Everyone wants to stop people who are a danger to themselves or others from getting guns. But with Red Flag laws judges make decisions after only seeing a complaint about the mental state of the individual. No mental health experts are consulted, no hearing is held for up to a month after a person’s guns are confiscated, and no legal counsel is provided to those who can’t afford one.

Montana already has an Involuntary Commitment law, which includesallof the protections that Red Flag laws miss. A judge listens to a mental health care expert’s evaluation, and has many options for treatment or protection.

Bullock wants to ban guns for those under age 21 because “everybody wants to keep themselves and their families safe.” But let’s not forget thatlaw-abiding, young citizens arm themselves for self-defense. What about the 20-year-old woman who is being stalked by a potential rapist or killer? Research showsthat having a gun is by far the most effective way for young women to defend themselves.

Of the 73 U.S. mass public shooters since 1998,just 11 wereunder the age of 21. Increasing the minimum legal age from 18 to 21 would have affected only six attackers. Even in these half-dozen cases where raising the age limit might have conceivably had an impact, five already illegally obtained a weapon and the other one could have. 

Bullock criticized one part of the Democrats’ national platformon guns — mandatory gun storage laws— but his silence on so many other regulations is troubling. He said nothing against national gun licensing or allowing lawsuits against gun makers whenever their guns are used improperly.

A Bullock win in November will give control of the Senate to gun control advocates. With Democrats vowing to end to the filibuster, gun control laws will sail through Congress. Anti-Second Amendment judges, if confirmed, will strip Montanans of our rights. With four of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices saying there is no Constitutionally right for individuals to keep and bear arms, we are truly hanging on a knife edge.

John R. Lott, Jr., “Bullock ads claim support for the Second Amendment,” The Missoulian, August 24, 2020.