An Arizona Republican running for Congress argued that Democrats commit nearly all the mass shootings in the country. Gary Kiehne, a rancher looking to unseat Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), made the claim when asked about gun rights at a Republican primary debate on Saturday.
“If you look at all the fiascos that have occurred, 99 percent of them have been by Democrats pulling their guns out and shooting people,” Kiehne said. “So I don’t think you have a problem with the Republicans.”
Kiehne also boasted that he had “more guns and ammo than any one of my competitors.”
Kiehne’s claim that 99 percent of shootings were committed by Democrats is completely false, yet continues to be a persistent myth on the radical right. Roger Hedgecock, a conservative radio host, seems to have originated this message soon after the Newtown shooting, as President Obama was preparing a plan to combat gun violence.
Yet very few gunmen have a coherent ideology, let alone a party affiliation. Some, like Aurora theater gunman James Holmes and Gabby Giffords shooter Jared Loughner, wrote manifestos full of anti-government paranoia and references to a wide range of books and media. Usually, these pseudo-political rants reveal more about the shooter’s mental instability than party affiliation.
The gun violence debate was largely derailed by conspiracy theories and misinformation last year as Congress tried to act on gun regulation after the Newtown shooting. On Saturday, Kiehne also invoked a common idea pushed by the National Rifle Association, that Obama was trying to expand background checks as a ruse to collect a national registry of gun owners that the government could later use to take away guns. Yet even with a provision specifying that the government could never create a registry of gun owners, bipartisan background checks legislation failed in the Senate.