Jon Tester’s one of those red-state Democrats who never quite fully embraces his party’s anti-gun agenda but rarely if ever actually rides to the rescue of gun owners, despite his repeated assurances that the Second Amendment is sacrosanct in his eyes. For most of Tester’s career, he’s been able to get away with his triangulation, but thanks to Joe Biden’s nomination of gun control activist David Chipman as permanent director of the ATF, the Montana senator is going to cast the most consequential gun vote of his career: does he stand for the Second Amendment, or will he bend the knee to Democrats and the gun control lobby?
Donald Trump, Jr. is taking that argument directly to the voters in Montana with an op-ed at The Missoulian, the state’s largest newspaper. In his column, Don Jr. reminds readers of Chipman’s long history of gun control activism and hostility towards responsible gun owners.
Our constitutional rights are too important to allow a political activist to run a public safety and law enforcement agency. Chipman is a former lobbyist for Michael Bloomberg’s extreme anti-gun group and is currently employed by the Giffords anti-gun lobbying group. In other words, we would be taking a guy whose current job is to advocate for guns being taken away from law-abiding citizens, and actually give him the power to do it.
Chipman has expressed utter contempt and disrespect for gun owners. He has frequently argued that there is no reason to own a gun and derided the 8.4 million first-time gun buyers who purchased a firearm last year for self-protection during the pandemic. He dismissed these buyers as fearful and preparing “for end times scenarios and zombie apocalypses.” He mocked firearm owners, saying they “might think they are die-hard, ready-to-go, but unfortunately, they’re more like Tiger King.”
In reality, we lawful gun owners want to protect our families. The desire to keep the people we love safe from harm is a human impulse that cuts across all races, classes and socioeconomic backgrounds. During the pandemic, for instance, there was a 58% increase in Black Americans purchasing firearms because they wanted to defend their homes and loved ones while far-left activists were bent on defunding the police.
Trump also points out that 22 of the largest sportsmen’s groups have come out against Chipman’s nomination, but there’s also plenty of evidence that Montanans of all stripes are paying attention to Tester’s vote and have strong opinions about what he should do. Writing at the Daily Caller, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Larry Keane noted that the group has been polling likely voters in key states like Montana, and more than half of all respondents in the state say they don’t want Chipman.
That make sense. Not only is Montana a Second Amendment Sanctuary and a Constitutional Carry state, it’s home to a thriving firearms industry that would be in Chipman’s crosshairs as soon as he’s confirmed. Even if you’re not an ardent Second Amendment supporter, you probably don’t want to see your son or daughter lose their job, or watch as a well-paying manufacturer is forced to shut down because Chipman’s weaponized the ATF against gun makers.
Politically, Biden would lose some face if Tester or another red-state Democrat like Joe Manchin were to consign Chipman’s nomination to the dustbin of history, but frankly, the president screwed up by listening to gun control groups who saw a golden opportunity to install one of their own in a key position of power and influence. Biden could have nominated a career agent who didn’t go to work for the gun control lobby and his nominee would have likely been approved on a bipartisan basis, but that wouldn’t have been enough for deep-pocketed donors and activist groups like Michael Bloomberg and Giffords. They believe that Democrats like John Tester will bow to their wishes instead of stand up for the rights of constituents, and it’s up to Jon Tester to prove them wrong. If, on the other hand, he proves himself to be the gun control lobby’s lackey, he can kiss his chances for re-election in 2024 goodbye.
I know what I’d do if I were Jon Tester. I also know what I’d be doing if I were a Montanan: calling and emailing his office and telling the staffers that a “yes” on Chipman means a “no” from you on Election Day in 2024. A state as 2A-friendly should have a senator who reflects that fealty to the Constitution and not one who’ll sell out the Second Amendment rights of residents in exchange for some Bloomberg bucks in the next election cycle.