Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach wants us to be very, very angry over his weekend parade appearance with a replica of a machine gun. That’s because he hopes Kansan Republicans will delight in that anger and revel in the idea that he’s triggering the “snowflakes.”
In a fundraising email on Monday, the Republican secretary of state bragged about the reaction to his appearance alongside what only looked like a big gun in Saturday’s Old Shawnee Days parade: “Within seconds of the parade being over, liberals started losing their minds ... But the fact is, the only reason why these ‘tolerant’ left snowflakes get so upset over even the sight of me is because they know I will not back down in my defense of the Second Amendment.”
Here’s what that over-the-top fury looked like: Someone who hacked the Twitter account of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management called Kobach “a bad guy with a gun’’and “a dumb guy with a gun.”
The City of Shawnee apologized after some parents complained that their kids were nervous enough about school shootings without seeing a candidate parading what sure looked like a weapon of war.
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“My child didn’t need that today,” and at age 6 is already anxious about the possibility of a school shooting, Pastor Johnny Lewis of Shawnee Community Christian Church said on Facebook.
Kobach apparently does need it, though. His campaign couldn’t wait to put out a statement deriding “those who use the excuse of school violence to restrict the right to bear arms.” Unfortunately, school shootings are a reality, not an “excuse.”
But even gun-control advocates were hardly “losing their minds” over his stunt.
Jo Ella Hoye, of Moms Demand Action, who was at the parade to raise awareness about gun violence, really only stated the obvious: “I’m sure that people felt happy to see it. Some people might have been afraid to see it.”
Big guns have been big draws in campaigns for years. Disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens shot a machine gun in his most memorable ad, and look how well that turned out. He also seems to have over-hyped his experience as a Navy SEAL, in a way that other SEALS found unseemly and dishonest.
And it was the false advertising implied by Kobach’s appearance that Afghanistan veteran Jason Kander mocked on Twitter.
“If Kobach loves big machine guns so much,” tweeted Kander, a Democrat who narrowly lost his 2016 U.S. Senate race against incumbent Roy Blunt, “maybe he should have joined the Army instead of just playing pretend.” Kander, as you may recall, assembled a rifle blindfolded in an ad with quite a different message: “I also believe in background checks so that terrorists can’t get their hands on one of these.”
His derision, obviously, was not the hoped-for response, but liberals are more weary of Kobach’s antics than they are triggered by them.
In August’s GOP primary, when Kobach is up against Gov. Jeff Colyer, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and doctor and 2006 gubernatorial nominee Jim Barnett, we’ll find out where Kansas Republicans stand.