Fail: Montana Democrats Distract from Sen. Jon Tester’s Gun Control Vote

AP/Rich Pedroncelli

In 2013 Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) voted for a body of gun controls pushed by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Montana Democrats are now employing a bait-and-switch tactic to get Tester re-elected in 2018.

Here is how Tester’s support for gun control unfolded–shortly after the heinous attack on Sandy Hook Elementary, Manchin began pushing universal background checks for gun sales. Such checks have long been a dream of gun-grabbing Democrats and were one of the big gun control goals of Barack Obama.

Would the checks have prevented Sandy Hook? No. The gunman who attacked Sandy Hook stole his weapons, so point-of-sale gun controls were powerless. Yet Manchin pushed the gun controls because there was an emotional window of opportunity. And Tester voted for the gun controls when they came before the Senate.

The gun controls failed, but that does the change the fact that Tester supported them.

Fast forward to 2017 and Republican Matt Rosendale is running to unseat Tester. One of the first things Rosendale did was focus on Tester’s support for gun control. Politifact quoted Rosendale saying, “Tester believes that we should have a national registration so that the people of Montana should have to ask permission before they purchase a gun, ask permission from the federal government.”

Politifact said Rosendale’s claim that Tester supports a gun registry is “absurd,” and in so doing, may have just proven that Politifact does not understand how a gun registry works (or what purpose it serves).

For example, Breitbart News and the NRA warned again and again that Senator Manchin’s universal background check bill would require a gun registry in order to be enforceable. The need for an accompanying registry is easy to understand when one grasps the fact that universal backgrounds are based on a government’s knowledge of the location of every gun and every gun owner; without knowing both these things government could never know when a gun is changing hands. And the only way to know these things is a gun registry.

More recently, when Michael Bloomberg was pushing universal background checks in New Mexico, 32 of the state’s 33 sheriffs signed a letter warning that the implementation of such checks would lead to a gun registry. And we have seen this work out in real time in California, where universal background checks led to gun registration requirements and gun confiscation laws.

Therefore, Rosendale’s claims about Tester are not as “absurd” as Politifact would have you believe.

Perhaps the best way to put it would be to say that Tester voted for post-Sandy Hook gun controls that would not have been enforceable without the creation of a national gun registry.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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