Washington, DC / Montana – -(AmmoLand.com)- Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) is running for re-election to a third term, and he wants the votes of Second Amendment supporters. He’s got a tough race as a Democrat in a state that went for President Trump by over 20 points. In neither Senate race has Tester gotten more than 49.2 percent of the vote, relying on third party candidates who drained support from his opponents, Conrad Burns and Denny Rehburg.
Tester has talked a strong game on gun rights over the years, praising the Heller and McDonald Supreme Court rulings that struck down handgun bans in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. He’s voted against bans on certain semi-automatic firearms and arbitrary limits on magazine capacity according to Project VoteSmart. However, he did vote for expanding background checks. Those votes came in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
So far, so good. Or is it? Here is the problem with Jon Testor and the second amendment.
Does he really warrant support from Second Amendment supporters, or is it time to make a switch? That is a very good question, certainly one that it is fair to ask. In theory, the right to keep and bear arms should not be a partisan issue. The National Rifle Association has long had a policy of only taking a look at votes on gun issues. They also support pro-gun incumbents over challengers, regardless of party. Gun Owners of America gives Tester much lower scores.
Let’s take a closer look at the record on a big issue that impacts the Second Amendment indirectly: judicial nominations.
Tester voted against Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court, and supported the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, who voted to uphold Chicago’s handgun ban in the McDonald case. He also supported the nomination of Elena Kagan. Tester also has not said if he will vote for Brett Kavanaugh, but did delay in meeting him.
“Sen. Jon Tester of Montana has not met with Kavanaugh despite weeks of trying to get a sit-down on the books,” a Kavanaugh aide said.
When it comes to appeals court nominations, Tester has been with Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, mortal enemies of our Second Amendment rights, more often than not, according to Breitbart News.
These appeals court nominations are important. The Supreme Court doesn’t handle that many cases in a year – often the last stops have been with the Circuit Courts of Appeal. What you may not know is that these courts can get two bites at the same case. When a case is first heard at these courts, it is usually with a three-judge panel. Then, those rulings can be appealed to an en banc panel. This is either the entire court, or in the case of the 9th Circuit, 11 judges.
En banc court panels twice took away Second Amendment victories. In the 9th Circuit, California got such a panel to uphold its discriminatory “may issue” carry permit system. The 4th Circuit’s en banc ruling upheld Maryland’s semi-auto ban after a three-judge panel struck it down. Tester regularly voted to approve Obama’s nominees to appeals courts benches, many of whom later voted to strike down the panels’ rulings.
So, Tester will happily vote against gun bans, fight the UN Arms Treaty, and pass legislation for sportsmen. But he’s warm on expanded background checks being pushed by the likes of Michael Bloomberg, which has the potential to be a back-door gun registration system. He voted for the Manchin checks, but against those by anti-Second Amendment zealot Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut).
When it comes to the judges, though, Tester’s record is a deal-breaker. He’s voted against those that would strike down laws that clearly violate the Second Amendment, like Neil Gorsuch.
He has voted for a Supreme Court justice who would have overturned Heller, and for appeals court nominees who upheld semi-auto bans and “may issue” carry laws. Tester has proven that he will damage our Second Amendment rights through those votes.
He’s certainly not a sworn enemy of Second Amendment rights, like Feinstein or Schumer. He’s arguably come through in a pinch. At the same time, as a Democrat, his first vote in the 115th Congress was to have Schumer run the place, with Feinstein controlling the Senate Judiciary Committee. But judicial nominations matter, big time. With our Second Amendment rights at risk on numerous fronts, we need Senators we can count on to support us on those fronts. Tester is not one of them.
About Harold Hutchison
Writer Harold Hutchison has more than a dozen years of experience covering military affairs, international events, U.S. politics and Second Amendment issues. Harold was consulting senior editor at Soldier of Fortune magazine and is the author of the novel Strike Group Reagan. He has also written for the Daily Caller, National Review, Patriot Post, Strategypage.com, and other national websites.