Former Missouri governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Eric Greitens has pivoted 180 degrees on the issue of the state’s Second Amendment Preservation Act; a new law that took effect earlier this year that forbids state and local police from working with their federal counterparts in enforcing federal gun control laws that aren’t mirrored in state statute.
Late last week Greitens appeared on Missouri radio station KWOS and was asked about the new law, which has been criticized by some police chiefs in the state as well as Democratic officials from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland down to St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, who say the law is so broadly written that local police officers could be sued even if they’re assisting in a drug investigation if a firearm is discovered in the course of an arrest. Greitens, who’s running against a crowded field in the Republican primary for the seat currently held by retiring GOP Senator Roy Blunt, slammed SAPA and its supporters.
In comments Greitens made during a radio interview shared last week, Greitens said the new law “defunded police” and was backed by “career politicians” and “RINOs” (Republicans in Name Only).
“It’s important to have leaders who, like, understand what’s happening on the front lines,” Greitens said.
By Sunday, however, Greitens had changed his tune.
I 100% support the Second Amendment Preservation Act.
Do-nothing establishment RINO's and lobbyists will never truly stand up for the Second Amendment to protect your gun rights. Don't be fooled. pic.twitter.com/JV56mJF5k5
— Eric Greitens (@EricGreitens) December 4, 2021
So which is it? Is SAPA a poison pill backed by far left activists and RINO squishes that’s actually defunding police, as Greitens alleged last Thursday? Or is valuable legislation that’s worth protecting, as Greitens proclaimed on Saturday?
Last Tuesday, Greitens told radio hosts Austin Petersen and John Marsh that SAPA is leading to police officers being prosecuted, declaring that “what is absurd about this is that you have people who should know better, people who should understand what’s happening on the front lines and instead they’re joining forces on the Left.”
“We cannot have a situation where we have RINOs, career politicians, people who don’t think or have the understanding of what happens on the front lines who are actually in a position now of going after and threatening to sue our police officers,” Greitens added in response to a question specifically about the Second Amendment Preservation Act. “We’ve had too much of this from George Soros-funded prosecutors, from liberals and leftists all over the country.”
On Saturday, Greitens was interviewed by Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle, who brought up the fact that Greitens had been criticized by some Republicans and 2A activists for his comments and asked him to respond. Greitens never mentioned the criticism or his comments from two days earlier, instead telling Breitbart’s audience that he “supports the Second Amendment Preservation Act” while touting his own record as a pro-Second Amendment governor.
I suspect that Greitens’ original comments were meant as a slight against Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who’s both supported SAPA and is also running to replace Roy Blunt in the Senate. I can understand wanting to differentiate yourself from the competition, but referring to SAPA supporters as either willing accomplices or innocent dupes of the defund the police movement, Greitens ended up metaphorically shooting himself in the foot.
Was his interview with Breitbart enough to undo the damage? Probably not among the hardcore Second Amendment activists in the Show Me State, who’ve seen enough from the former governor to suspect that just like the “career politicians” he complains about, he’s willing to say whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear.
If Greitens had issues with portions of the Second Amendment Preservation Act, he could have easily told Boyle that while he supports the legislation in theory, he shares the concerns of some police that in practice the law is unworkable without tweaks. Instead he said that SAPA supporters are RINOs who don’t have any understanding of the job that police officers do, and only after he started receiving criticism simply declared that, no, in actuality he’s 100% behind the Second Amendment Preservation Act.
Consider me less than impressed by Greitens profile in political courage. Heck, I would rather he actually stood by his original comments if that’s what truly believes. I don’t expect to agree with politicians 100% of the time, but I can’t stand ham-fisted attempts to pander to me as a gun owner, and that’s exactly how Greitens’ interview with Breitbart sounds to my ears. I can respect someone who holds a different point of view than my own, but don’t tell me I’m siding with George Soros because of my support for SAPA and then declare that actually you support it too.
Greitens is currently running neck-and-neck with Schmitt for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, and I’ll be very curious to see what the next round of polling shows. It could be that Greitens’ flip-flop fades into the background for most voters, but I suspect that the former governor’s comments are going to have a lasting impact among those voters whose primary issue is their right to keep and bear arms.