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The Complicated Relationship Between Eric Greitens and Guns

For most, their initial introduction to Eric Greitens came compliments of his sensationalized gun ads from the summer of 2016, when he was running to be Missouri’s Governor. In June of that year, before the Republican primary, Greitens released his “Taking Aim” ad, touting his Navy SEAL/non-career-politician background.

After winning the Republican nomination, Greitens busted out the “Big Guns” in his bid to take the Governor’s mansion in the General Election.

Some were horrified. Some viewed it as a cynical ploy to woo conservative Second Amendment supporters (who might otherwise be skeptical of this relative unknown who’d only recently transitioned from Democrat to Republican). Some loved it and happily embraced this newcomer/”outsider” with the idea that if he ruffled liberal /lefty feathers, he was the guy for them.

His approach wasn’t sufficient to earn him an NRA endorsement:

Grietens received the NRA’s “Aq” rating, which means he gave strong answers on a survey about gun rights but does not have an established political record on the issue.

However, in the end, it worked for the voters (or at least didn’t hamper his candidacy), as Greitens won, defeating Democrat Chris Koster (then the State Attorney General) by more than five points.

Then came the mixed messages.

Not long after he took office, Greitens banned concealed weapons in the Missouri Capitol. This understandably rankled Second Amendment supporters. The policy was subsequently reversed about a month later.

That was in 2017 — 2018 brought a good deal of drama. As we’ve reported previously:

Greitens resigned in May of 2018 following scandal/controversy involving an affair with his hairdresser and allegations that he photographed her in a state of undress and threatened to publish the photo(s) if she revealed the affair, as well as allegations regarding the improper use of a campaign donor list.  He was facing likely impeachment, a move supported by the majority of his fellow Republicans in Missouri. (Greitens, a Democrat until roughly a nanosecond before declaring his candidacy for governor, had not cultivated longstanding relationships nor made many friends among the Missouri GOP.)

Following his resignation, Greitens laid low for a bit. However, in March 2021, he announced his candidacy for the US Senate seat being vacated by Republican Roy Blunt at the end of this term.

Late in the fall of 2021, Greitens again ran afoul of Second Amendment advocates when he criticized Missouri’s recently passed Second Amendment Preservation Act during a radio interview. As reported by our sister site, Bearing Arms:

Late last week Greitens appeared on Missouri radio station KWOS and was asked about the new law, which has been criticized by some police chiefs in the state as well as Democratic officials from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland down to St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, who say the law is so broadly written that local police officers could be sued even if they’re assisting in a drug investigation if a firearm is discovered in the course of an arrest. Greitens, who’s running against a crowded field in the Republican primary for the seat currently held by retiring GOP Senator Roy Blunt, slammed SAPA and its supporters.

In comments Greitens made during a radio interview shared last week, Greitens said the new law “defunded police” and was backed by “career politicians” and “RINOs” (Republicans in Name Only).

“It’s important to have leaders who, like, understand what’s happening on the front lines,” Greitens said.

In response, the Missouri Firearms Coalition called Greitens’ comments “unforgivable.” Per the Missouri Times:

In a lengthy video, Aaron Dorr of the Missouri Firearms Coalition implored Greitens to apologize to grassroots gun owners and the Republican bill sponsors, Rep. Jered Taylor and Sen. Eric Burlison, calling his comments “virtually unforgivable.” Dorr also pushed back against the arguments that SAPA defunds the police or prevents work with federal officers.

“Every single thing he said on the policy was an embarrassment, and it was wrong, and it was a lie,” Dorr said.

Dorr continued to castigate Greitens for not advancing pro-gun ownership policies during his tenure as Missouri’s governor. (Greitens served as Missouri’s 56th governor for 1.5 years before he resigned amid campaign finance and sexual misconduct allegations while facing possible impeachment.)

“Despite all of your fancy campaign videos, Eric, you did nothing for gun owners when you were governor. You did harmful things, in fact, instead,” Dorr said. “So start by apologizing to everybody for doing nothing when you were in a position to actually help us.”

Coincidentally, Greitens once again reversed himself and walked back the comments:

By Sunday, however, Greitens had changed his tune.

So which is it? Is SAPA a poison pill backed by far left activists and RINO squishes that’s actually defunding police, as Greitens alleged last Thursday? Or is valuable legislation that’s worth protecting, as Greitens proclaimed on Saturday?

Fair questions.

In recent months, Greitens’ ongoing custody dispute with his ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, became news after an affidavit filed in support of Sheena Greitens’ motion to transfer the proceedings out of Missouri (where Eric Greitens remains a candidate for the US Senate, with the primary set for August 2nd) was published. The affidavit asserts that Eric Greitens “threatened to use his political connections and influence in order to destroy her reputation to win custody of the children.” Further, it alleges that Eric Greitens was physically violent towards both Sheena Greitens and the couple’s then-three-year-old son.

Last week, the Missouri Independent reported that Sheena Greitens’ attorney had requested numerous documents from the Governor’s office, including e-mails and texts regarding Eric Greitens’ access to firearms and mental status during his time in office.

As part of the couple’s child custody battle in Boone County court, attorney Helen Wade filed a records request with the governor’s office asking for documents regarding Eric Greitens losing access to firearms, or any that describe behavior by the former governor characterized as criminal, abusive or threatening.

….

In her request, Wade asked for:

  • Records “regarding or referencing Eric Greitens access to firearms, removal or limitation on Eric Greitens access to firearms, or assignment of firearms to Eric Greitens from October 1 2016 through June 15 2018; and
  • Records and/or communications “from Oct. 1, 2016 forwards regarding or referencing conduct by Eric Greitens which was characterized as actually or potentially concerning, criminal, abusive, threatening, creating or tending to create a liability or potential liability for the state of Missouri, inappropriate under then existing laws or policies, indicative of instability of mind or emotions, indicative of the exercise of questionable judgment or potential for self-harm or harm to others.”

At present, the records are not set to be available until August 3rd — the day after Missouri’s primary. So Missouri voters will not have the benefit of that additional information before making their choice.

That said, the evidence available to date demonstrates that Greitens possess a rather complicated, inconsistent, and seemingly politically expedient stance (or stances) regarding guns and the Second Amendment. For those voters who consider Second Amendment issues key, that may give them pause.

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