Dr. Robert Townsend- Pro Gun Democrat

Dr. Robert Townsend Receives

A Positive Rating from the NRA

Both Robert Townsend and his Republican Opponent received the same B- Rating for the NRA in the Primaries.  Unlike his opponent, who worked behind the scenes to become the candidate the NRA wanted in exchange for an endorsement, Dr. Townsend has stood by his principles and integrity.  Special Interests, be they the NRA or the DeVos Family, cannot buy principles with endorsements, nor does their money change deeply held values.  There are too many secret deals taking place between powerful groups and the politicians they endorse.  Dr. Robert Townsend does not accept special interest money for this reasons.  He will represent the people of the 97th, not the kingmakers backing his opponent.  My opponent is proud of his NRA Endorsement.  In reality it simply shows how easily his principles can be bought.  I complimented him on his political courage coming out for background checks, that compliment was premature given his recent about face.

A Pro Gun Democrat

One of the things every candidate for the House deals with is the mountain of questionnaires from political action groups ranging from the Corn Producers of Michigan to Right for Life.  One came this morning from the NRA- as I filled it out, I thought of all the gun grabbing democrat comments I’ve received.  So I thought I’d take a moment and share my responses with the voters of the 97th.

As a gun owner, hunter and long distance target shooter I firmly support the private ownership of firearms. I am a member of the NRA and two shooting clubs, one in Clare and other in Neguamee (they have a 600 yard range and require NRA membership).  As a human being, I am appalled by gun violence and mass shootings so common in the news.  As a physician I’ve treated adults and children injured or killed by firearms as a result of crime, accidents or suicides.  I feel, personally, that the answer does not lie with more laws, but with education,  enforcement of our current laws and better treatment of the mentally ill- A stance shared by the NRA.

Banning Firearms

I do not feel the federal ban on ‘assault rifles’ and ‘high capacity magazines’ did much of anything other than increase the eventual price of these items.  Charles Whitman killed nearly 20 people at the University of Texas with a 4 shot hunting rifle in 1966- setting off a flurry of gun regulations, but crime continues and no amount of regulation will prevent criminals and the mentally ill from being criminals or mentally ill.  We are a gun owning society and the best way to combat gun violence is with education, responsible ownership, and enforcement of existing laws.

My father taught me hunter safety and the proper use of my .22 rifle.  The army taught me to use an M-16 and a .45 pistol.  My son has his own .22 (the same model I had) and I taught my wife Lori the safe use of a 9mm pistol.  My children were taught from an early age the safe handling of firearms, with the goal to familiarize them so they didn’t get curious and fiddle with them, possibly hurting themselves or others.

We have lost this familiarity with firearms, even in rural areas, because of ‘liability’ and ‘politics’.  The rifle range under the stage at the Clare Middle School once taught firearm safety to generations of students, yet few now even know it exists.  In High School I kept my shotgun in the car in the school parking lot.  It was not a big deal then, today it would prompt a far different response.

Concealed Carry

I have a concealed carry permit, which I exercise on a regular basis.  There are been many instances of CPL holders protecting their families and strangers alike, and with that right comes a responsibly to have proper training.  I don’t have a problem requiring training for CPL’s, nor do I have a problem with special licenses (on a ‘shall issue’) basis for automatic weapons, explosives, and certain weapons with significant military capabilities.  An example of the latter would be 50 caliber rifles (BMG cartridge). This weapon will take down a helicopter and I feel that is pushing the limit of what is reasonable for a civilian to own.  The issue with 50 cal rifles is one of the few areas on which I have a minor disagreement with the NRA.

Finally, going back to the issue of training, I believe that with more intense training and currency, responsible CPL licensees should have expanded carry privileges.  Most of the tragedies of recent years have been in ‘no carry’ zones, and a responsible armed citizen willing to intervene may have made a difference.  I do believe a business owner should have the right to declare their property to be ‘gun free’ but local governments should not be able to add restrictions to state and federal law on a community wide basis, or at the very least require a voter referendum on the issue.  I am in full agreement with the NRA.

Open Carry

There is a difference between what you can do, and what you should do.  I do not feel Americans that choose to own and use guns should feel shame in any way for their choice to exert their second amendment rights.  I think a little common sense and responsible behavior go a long way towards projecting a positive image of firearm ownership.  Can you openly carry a firearm?  Yes, legally you can in Michigan, with some restrictions (you can’t open carry in a bank for example).  But there is a matter of appropriate behavior and sensitivity to others that should be considered.

Openly carrying a pistol and a hunting rifle in a hunting area really doesn’t surprise people, but turning the corner in downtown Ann Arbor and running into a group of heavily armed civilians can be upsetting to some people.  Like it or not, you surprised them and they were not expecting to see firearms, and you have to respect the fact you might make them feel uncomfortable.  I personally would not do that.  I certainly would not sponsor legislation telling you that you couldn’t either.  There is a difference between carrying concealed (no one knows it, and you are exerting your rights) and forcing the point on the general public, especially the non-gun familiar suburban public.  I won’t tell you to stop, but don’t expect me to cheer you on.

Background Checks

I do support background checks for the commercial purchase of firearms, and with modern computer systems, 3 days is AMPLE time to accomplish this.  When I purchase a weapon on Gunbroker.com it is shipped to Jays in Clare and I go through this process without a problem.  I registered my handguns with the Clare Police Department, again, don’t have a major issue with this (other than the Clare Police added questions to the federal form- I don’t support that).

There is one rather grey area- I can see the argument, but it isn’t an issue that sets me on fire.  That issue is gun shows and private sales of firearms in respect to background checks.  I’ve been to gun shows, that is where I bought my son’s Remington Nylon 66 .22 rifle, and I didn’t have a background check.  Nor was I asked to show my CPL (a nice way of confirming I was allowed to own a firearm).  My son didn’t have a background check when I gave him the rifle.  I’m not interested in sponsoring legislation to address this, but I’d like to think about this a little more if I was presented with legislation changing the current system.

A Michigan Registered MMMA patient should not be barred from firearm ownership because cannabis is federally illegal.  It is medical, like any other medicine, and they have a state license for it.  The ‘illegal drugs’ issue on firearm purchase/CPL should not refer to legal state use.  I don’t believe Michigan Firearms Dealers and Michigan Law Enforcement should be able to ask about MMMA card status, but that is a federal issue and there is little we can do on the state level.  We should look into it.

False Political Courage

“In my opinion, the state of Michigan should join the other 44 states that report this information (mental illness) to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The NRA says I shouldn’t support legislation like this….
I would caution you to look at candidates who received an A rating. I refuse to just go along with the status quo and when something isn’t right, I will stand up against it.”

That was the statement made by my opponent just prior to the August Primary.  He was stinging from a B- rating when Link and Gilmore got A’s and he tried to spin it off as ‘political courage’ to do ‘what was right’.  I even complimented him on that stance.  But in the time since, he got tired of me reporting I had the same rating as the Republican and it would be more meaningful to have that pro Second Amendment attitude in the Democratic Caucus.  So he went back to the NRA and apparently told them he would change his position in exchange for an ‘A’ rating and and endorsement.  I hope his integrity was worth more than just a bump in a grade.

My opponent, when challenged on the $45,000 he has taken from special interests (plus a dozen district wide mailings) claims he will stand up to them and not let their money influence his votes.  If the NRA is an example of how he shows political courage, it appears he can be bought and paid for- and rather cheaply.  I only have one special interest I answer to, and that is the people of the 97th.


See Dr. Robert Townsend’s post Gun Ownership is Part of America


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