“Had a blast riding in the Old Shawnee Days Parade in this souped up jeep with a replica gun,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach tweeted innocently on Saturday soon after the parade. “Those who want to restrict the right to keep and bear arms are deeply misguided. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
The replica machine gun mounted on Kobach’s star spangled jeep allegedly unnerved young children.
“My greatest concern today was not Kris Kobach’s political position,” said Pastor Johnny Lewis of Shawnee Community Christian Church as reported by multiple media outlets including Fox4 News. “It was that in a world where our children… live with anxiety about school shootings and do intruder drills regularly that any politician thought it was OK to drive through a crowd of children with an automatic weapon pointed at the crowd.”
In a follow up Facebook post, Lewis blamed the Kobach camp “for keeping [the story] alive despite no one else talking about it.” From the post, Lewis seems unaware of the way media work and especially unaware of the risks one runs for venturing into the public arena.
In a lengthy attempt to rebut the obvious question of why Kobach’s replica gun intimidated children but displays of real military weaponry by the National Guard and others do not, Lewis argued that “children are capable of distinguishing those differences.”
As to the notion that “no one else” was talking about the parade other than Kobach, Lewis apparently does not watch CNN or read the Washington Post. They thought the story worthy of a national stage and focused on Lewis’s outrage.
Amidst the controversy, parade organizers felt compelled to apologize. “In no way does this or any parade entry or float directly reflect the views and values of the City, the Old Shawnee Days Board or the Old Shawnee Days Society,” their statement said. “Please know that the safety of our residents is always our highest priority and we apologize if this made anyone feel unsafe or unsettled.”
Kobach, however, saw no need to apologize. “The outrage over the replica gun on the back of a patriotic jeep is the left trying to attack guns and your #2A rights,” he tweeted a day after the parade. “I will not back down in the face of a snowflake meltdown and outrage culture.”