In the South, even a lot of our Democrats like to argue they’re pro-gun. After all, guns are such a part of our life down here that it’s impossible to be elected to office without at least paying lip service to gun rights.

In Tennessee, the Senate race is going and the Democrat running for the seat is quite adamant that he’s pro-gun.

No, seriously, he is. The problem is, I don’t think he knows just what that actually means. After all, check out what candidate James Mackler had to say about guns.

Mackler brought up the trade war, rural hospital closures and the opioid crisis more than once, saying they require problem solving based on evidence. A gun owner, Mackler said that on the issue of firearms he would be “laser-focused” on trying to help pass stricter background check requirements.

“I know we can protect the Second Amendment and keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people – domestic abusers, the dangerously mentally ill, people on the terrorism watch list. I stand with 86 percent of Tennesseans who believe we need to expand background checks.”

Moving outside of that focus to include banning certain types of weapons, Mackler said, would play into the National Rifle Association’s “well worn playbook” by adding objectives with less widespread backing.

So, Mackler has no opposition to banning certain types of weapons on principle, just from a strategic standpoint.

Sure…that sounds like someone who’s pro-gun.

Perhaps more alarmingly though–I won’t lose too much sleep worrying about why someone opposes a category ban, so long as they oppose it–is Mackler’s insistence on “stricter background check requirements.”

By now, we all know that this translates to “universal background checks.” Mackler wants to get in the way of law-abiding citizens and their ability to do what they wish with their firearms.

As we’ve seen, universal background check requirements almost always translate into something that is either completely unenforceable or else so draconian that people can’t even loan a firearm to another party who might be in need for a short period of time. And yet, Mackler backs these kinds of measures and has the gall to argue that doing so would still be protecting the Second Amendment.

That’s like protecting someone from a headache by performing a cranial amputation.

Of course, there is good news. In particular, the fact that Mackler is polling so far behind his Republican opponent, Bill Hagerty, that there seems little chance of him making much of an impact in the race. It’s also worth noting that Tennessee isn’t one of the states I wrote about earlier today that may be at risk for flipping.

In other words, the only voice Mackler is going to have is as a voter following the election. That’s a saving grace, not just for Tennessee, but for the rest of us as well. With some luck, there will be a lot of other anti-gun candidates in the same position when all else is said and done.