Moderate Dem governor moves left, supports assault weapons ban as possible 2020 run looms

Moderate Dem governor moves left, supports assault weapons ban as possible 2020 run looms
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock told CNN he would support an assault weapon ban. (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)

In a move that could be more evidence of a 2020 presidential run, Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock moved his gun stance further left by telling CNN he would support a ban on assault weapons.

Bullock, who is considered a moderate Democrat and who has, in the past, shown support for gun rights, cited safety as the reason for taking a position that could strengthen his appeal among liberal voters.

“If we really step back for a moment, I think most folks, be it in Montana or elsewhere that are firearm owners want to keep themselves and their families safe,” Bullock told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “It’s not unlike those folks who say all these school tragedies and everything that’s been happening, what do they really want? Those same values.”

How has Bullock changed on gun issues?

In 2016, when Bullock was facing a challenge from Greg Gianforte, the governor highlighted past support he has received from the National Rifle Association and emphasized his belief in the Second Amendment.

At that time, according to the Montana Democratic Party, Bullock “[supported] Montana’s current laws when it comes to gun rights. He opposed universal background checks, and a party spokesman said “he will always stand up for the Second Amendment.”

In May of this year, however, Bullock shifted his position to support universal background checks, and also supported limits on “high-capacity magazines.” Bullock wrote in an op-ed that he was “a gun owner who believes in the Constitution, yet also recognizes its limits.”

And now, with his announcement of support for an assault weapons ban, Bullock has fallen in line with the mainstream Democratic stance on gun control.

Will Bullock run for president?

There are signs that Bullock is at least testing the waters for a 2020 run for the Democratic nomination, in what could be a relatively crowded field compared to 2016.

According to The Washington Post, Bullock visited Iowa last week, and will hit New Hampshire this week — two key early voting states that someone considering a presidential run would need to campaign in.

“Right now, really, what I’m doing is, I have been listening,” Bullock said over the weekend. “I have been traveling the country quite a bit, listening probably more than I have been talking. I have shared what we have done in Montana. But, for now, that’s as far as it goes.”

(H/T The Hill)