Democrats aren’t known for being pro-Second Amendment. There are exceptions, to be sure, but gun control is a key part of the party’s platform these days, and the vast majority of candidates for office running under that banner support that particular plank.
But Matt Castelli from New York says he doesn’t. To hear him tell it, he’s a pro-Second Amendment Democrat. That’s great to hear since he’s running for Congress in New York.
The problem is that it seems Castelli’s campaign is sending some very mixed signals.
Democratic House candidate Matt Castelli (N.Y.) says he “will stand up for the rights of gun owners.” But his aides tell a different story in private, according to video of a campaign training session obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
In a Zoom call this week, a Castelli campaign staffer told a group of volunteers that the Democrat is “for gun control,” including bans on AR-15s and so-called assault rifles. It is the second time this week that a Castelli supporter has suggested he supports curbs on gun ownership. “The issue of guns is an incredibly tricky one in this upstate district. I know a lot of us would prefer a stronger stance on guns, but he would absolutely lose if he took that stance,” Jennifer Mann, the chairwoman of the Brunswick Democratic Committee, told supporters in an email this week.
Those remarks contradict Castelli’s public claims that he opposes gun bans. Castelli, running against Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, said in an ad earlier this month he will “stand up for the rights of gun owners.” He said last month he opposes a ban on assault weapons, calling proposals to do so “ill-defined.”
It marks a pattern in New York’s 21st district, one of the most conservative in the state. In 2018, Democratic candidate Tedra Cobb privately assured a teenage supporter she supports gun bans but could not say so publicly because she would lose her race.
I remember Cobb’s comments. I wrote about them at the time. This does seem to be a bit of a pattern.
Well, I can speculate, but part of the issue is simply that most Democrats really do support gun control, but if one lives in a district that’s pro-gun, they can’t exactly advertise that position if they want to win. We pro-Second Amendment folks are prickly when it comes to those who would infringe on our gun rights.
If you’re not going to take the guns, we can often look past a lot of other things. At worst, we just stay home. For a red district, that might be enough to make the difference, which may be why Castelli took a pro-gun stance.
It could also be that they can’t afford any Democratic voter to stay home so they tell them that they’re anti-gun so they’ll turn out.
Regardless, Castelli, like Cobb before him, is sending out two very different messages. He’s clearly lying to someone in this. The question is to whom.
The truth is that if you want to trust someone you know is going to lie to someone so blatantly, you almost deserve whatever else happens. This isn’t even a “he said something five years ago that wasn’t true” kind of thing, either. This is during this campaign.
Castelli didn’t respond to the Free Beacon’s request for comment, but in addition to the video claiming he would support gun control, he also attended a March For Our Lives rally in New York in March. That’s the group founded by the likes of David Hogg and friends after the Parkland shooting.
That’s a group not known for having strong pro-gun stances.
In other words, if you’re in that district and you vote for Castelli, you may well be voting to elect someone completely untrustworthy when it comes to your gun rights.