Can A California Gun Store Owner Get Elected To Congress?

AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar

Storm Jenkins thinks so. The owner of Guns of Distinction in Palm Desert, California says he had no real plan or desire to run for office, but “just got so tired of yelling at the television set” that he felt he “either had to shut up or do something.” Now the Republican is doing something; namely, running for the Republican nomination for the 36th Congressional District in California.

The district was considered a safe Republican seat until 2012, when Democrat Raul Ruiz upset incumbent Republican Mary Bono. Jenkins, who moved to the district in 2018 after many years in San Francisco, believes the district is ripe for a return to Republican representation.

“Republicans don’t win in San Francisco, but this district is quite a bit different,” Jenkins said. “I think this is going to be extremely competitive race.”

Voter registration data backs him up: 62.8% of voters in San Francisco are Democrats, compared to 42.9% of those registered to vote in the 36th District, according to county election statistics.

“Times are such that people are not happy with what’s going on,” Jenkins added. “I’m not going to be ever attacking Dr. Ruiz on a personal level at all and not attacking his character or anything. I just don’t like the way he votes.”

Specifically, Jenkins says he has big problems with the massive infrastructure and reconciliation bills that are the subject of debate and Democratic in-fighting at the moment.

“It’s infuriating to me, because the infrastructure bill is only marginally about infrastructure,” Jenkins said. “Infrastructure does not include social justice propaganda and programs and setting up feel-good stuff, with millions and millions and millions of our dollars that we don’t have.”

The Democratic proposals include millions in funding to address climate change in the United States, though Jenkins seemed less concerned about the issue, instead criticizing California’s state-level environmental policies.

“Do I think that it’s important to be responsible with the environment? Yes. Do I think necessarily that human beings are able to destroy a planet that’s been around for three and a half billion years? Not so sure,” Jenkins said. “But I know that when you have a government telling you we need to get rid of fossil fuels, but we’re not going to allow you to produce any more electricity, that’s a bigger immediate problem.”

While Democrats have about 42% of registered voters in the District, Republican voter registration lags behind at about 30%. Still, Jenkins thinks he can make inroads with independent voters once the general election rolls around.

With about 20% of voters registered with no party preference in the 36th District, Jenkins said he hopes to appeal to voters outside of the GOP base by focusing on public safety.

“Right now, everybody wants a sense of security, whether it’s the violence on the streets, the borders, this impending firing of so many workers — it all comes down to one thing: Do I feel safe?” Jenkins said. “People don’t like the idea that the government has turned into this giant spy operation.”

Public safety and personal safety go hand-in-hand, which gives Jenkins a huge opening to talk about California’s gun control laws and Ruiz’s longtime embrace of anti-Second Amendment positions. The Democrat, who served as an ER doctor before being elected to Congress, has proclaimed that guns are a public health issue, and if Jenkins wins the Republican primary next June I suspect that firearms will be one of the biggest issues in both campaigns.

I don’t know anything about Jenkins as a candidate, but I do like the fact that a gun store owner is running for office, particularly in California. Hopefully he’ll be able to speak candidly about how the gun control laws that Democrats like Ruiz support do far more damage to the Second Amendment rights of citizens than they do to curtail criminal activity, while offering up a new direction for voters in the district; one that embraces the right of armed self-defense instead of seeking to strip those protections away.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET