Minnesota 2A group chooses "none of the above" for governor

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

Dr. Scott Jensen may have won the Republican gubernatorial primary in Minnesota this week, but the physician and former state senator hasn’t won over one of the leading Second Amendment organizations in the state. The MN Gun Owners Caucus and its affiliated PAC announced on Wednesday that it will not be endorsing a candidate for governor this year because both major party candidates have embraced new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners.

“We endorsed then-candidate Scott Jensen for Minnesota Senate in 2016, ” said Bryan Strawser, Chairman, MN Gun Owners Caucus.  “He later betrayed his endorsement pledge by co-sponsoring two gun control bills.”

“While Governor Tim Walz has voiced nothing but disdain for the Second Amendment rights of Minnesotans, our organization must stand by our commitment to our members that Dr. Jensen would not be eligible for future endorsement by our organization, ” added Strawser.

In a letter to Jensen, Strawser and Rob Doar, the MN Gun Owners Caucus senior VP of government affairs, elaborated on their decision not to issue an endorsement of his campaign.

We endorsed your candidacy for State Senate in 2016. You failed to honor the commitments you made when seeking our endorsement by co-sponsoring two gun control bills (SF 3279 – Universal Background Checks; SF 3278 – Lost & Stolen Firearms Reporting).

Under pressure from our organization, you later removed yourself as co-sponsor on SF 3279. We stand by our statement at the time of your sponsorship of these gun control bills that you would no longer be eligible for endorsement by our organization.

We’re grateful that as a State Senator you never voted for a gun control bill – and that during your gubernatorial campaign you have voiced nothing but support for the Second Amendment. Voters will have to decide whether to trust you with their Second Amendment rights.

As Strawser notes, Jensen never actually cast a vote in favor of a gun control proposal, and actually apologized for his previous support for gun control during the Republican state convention this year. Jensen has also said that he will sign any pro-Second Amendment legislation that reaches his desk if he’s elected, unlike Tim Walz, who’s been pushing for several new restrictions on legal gun owners in the wake of the shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde.

“We just need to not accept that this is normal. This does not happen in other countries, we are the outlier in the world on this. The common denominator is easy access to firearms,” Gov. Tim Walz told reporters on Thursday after he filed for re-election.

Walz said he and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan in 2018 ran on the issue of gun control and would again push to require enhanced background checks for gun purchases and allow law enforcement officers to come in and remove a person’s firearms if a loved one believed they posed a risk to themselves or to someone else.

“Here we’ve been stonewalled (in the Senate),” Walz continued. “So yes, this will be an issue.”

If the MN Gun Owners Caucus hadn’t disqualified Jensen from any future endorsements after his ill-conceived support for universal background checks and a “lost or stolen” law back in 2016, backing him in this year’s gubernatorial race wouldn’t have been a difficult decision. But the organization gave its word to its members, and explaining why they won’t be endorsing Jensen while noting his more recent support for the right to keep and bear arms is probably the best middle ground that they could take. What impact this will have on the gun owner vote is unclear, but my guess is that if forced to choose between a Democrat actively campaigning to restrict the right to keep and gear arms and a Republican who’s apologized for his past support for gun control, most 2A voters are going to go with the candidate who’s at least saying the right things, even if there’s still some skepticism about his change of heart.