Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell holds a rifle on stage at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference earlier this year.
This political primary season has seen an unprecedented use of guns to get votes. Republican hopefuls across the country are appearing in political ads firing guns and holding political events around firearms.
Texas State Sen. Donna Campbell won the Republican nomination in her party. In one of her ads, she’s seen firing a gun at a target as a narrator lauds her for reducing “the time it takes to obtain a concealed carry license, so more law abiding Texans could exercise their constitutional rights to defend themselves.”
In another, candidate Matt Rosendale shoots a rifle at an imaginary government drone — though it did not help him snatch the nomination for a Montana congressional seat.
And in a now-classic ad, Will Brooke, a candidate for Alabama’s 6th congressional district, sets up a one-foot-thick copy of the Affordable Care Act for target practice. Then he starts blasting away.
“We’re down here to have a little fun today and talk about two serious subjects — the Second Amendment and see how much damage we can do to this copy of Obamacare,” he says.
Though Brooke did considerable damage to a publication from the Government Printing Office, he lost the Republican primary.
Guns are powerful political symbols this year because the gun rights crowd is on high alert. After mass shootings in the last two years in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., they believe the Obama administration wants to come for their guns. Conservative candidates have piled on.
In Texas, GOP Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst – who ran for renomination and lost — had a poster that said, “Come and take it,” superimposed on a rifle.
Even Wendy Davis, the liberal Democrat running for governor of Texas, had to come out and say she’s for open carry of handguns.
David Dewhurst, who sought another term as lieutenant governor of Texas, lost in a runoff.