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Here's what Montana's western district House candidates say about gun violence

Congress is once again debating how to regulate firearms as gun violence and mass shootings plague the country. MTPR reached out to both the Republican and Democratic candidates vying for Montana’s western district House seat to ask them how Congress should address gun violence.

In light of the mass shooting in Texas and renewed debate over how to regulate firearms in the U.S. How do you think Congress should address the gun violence crisis in the United States? Do you support further restrictions on gun sales and/or ownership? If so, what specific restrictions do you support? 

Republican Ryan Zinke: Secretary Zinke has practiced and defended our constitutional rights his entire life and knows the answer to curbing acts of evil is not taking away the rights of law-abiding Americans, it’s addressing root causes, mental health, school safety, recognizing an emerging threat, etc.

Republican Al Olszewski: Per the Constitution, I do not support any gun control measures - rather I believe gun-free zones should be eliminated as they jeopardize school safety by sending the message to a would-be shooter that they will not be met with any resistance. Furthermore, to enhance school safety, I support allowing school districts the option of allowing educators and administrators who have concealed carry permits the right to carry on campus.

Republican Mary Todd: I am broken hearted over the mass school shooting in Texas. As a mom who has lost my first born son, I know the pain of losing a child is beyond measure. My thoughts and prayers are with all the families affected by this horrendous tragedy. My stance on gun restriction remains the same, which is to uphold the 2nd Amendment. The problem is not guns, rather it is mentally deranged people who will get their hands on guns regardless of restrictions.
[Mary Todd responded to MTPR’s request for comment after the deadline for broadcast, so it is not included in the audio of this report.]

Democrat Cora Neumann: Our kids are experiencing terror in their own schools. Just yesterday my own children went into lockdown at their school, fearing not only the threat, but the potential that they could die. All the while watching adults, our leaders, do nothing. I refuse to stand by another day without more action. When you elect me to Congress, I commit to working across the aisle to achieve meaningful change on mass shootings in America, including advocating for: background checks on gun sales, establishing extreme risk protection order systems, red flag laws and keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, safe storage education, and opposing politicians carving out special loopholes for their donors. And I won’t do this alone. I will bring gun owners and gun advocates with me. Because they need to help lead this charge right now, and I’m building a team of them that can and will join me in this fight.

Democrat Monica Tranel: I grew up on a ranch. I know responsible gun ownership is a way of life in Montana. But as a mom to three daughters and the sister of a public school teacher, it breaks my heart to see another mass shooting in the news every time we turn around. The grief we feel must be met with action, rather than another round of condolences from leaders. We don't have to choose between supporting the Second Amendment and having common-sense laws to reduce gun violence, like universal background checks. We have to make it harder for dangerous people to go out and buy a gun. Most Montanans agree with that.

Democrat Tom Winter: I respectfully disagree with the premise of this question. This false dichotomy between “more or less restrictions” or “more or less guns” comes directly from the corrupt NRA’s gun lobby. They spend ungodly amounts of money to stoke fear in us gun owners that the government is coming to take away our guns. But like many Montanans I am a responsible gun owner that was raised on the tenets of gun safety. And just like the overwhelming majority of responsible gun owners I support common sense gun safety measures like universal background checks and getting weapons of war off our streets. The only controversy here is that politicians on both sides of the aisle have been either purchased by the corporate gun industry or cower in fear of them. I cannot be bought and fear no lobbyist. Alone amongst all candidates in this race I have grown up in the era of school massacres utilizing weapons of war. Alone amongst the candidates I know that it does not have to be this way. If we just sent representatives to DC that have the courage to stand up against the corrupt gun lobby we could fix this. Instead, children are getting massacred in schoolrooms and the best my corporate opponents can muster is thoughts and prayers and the purposely hazy policy changes that were built to avoid accountability. This is not the time for cowardice — this is the time for action. We must get weapons of war off our streets and institute universal background checks. Period.