Kobach won’t apologize for use of Jeep, replica gun in Shawnee parade despite complaints

SHAWNEE, Kan. -- He never imagined it would cause so much uproar.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is facing the aftermath of a weekend filled with backlash. Kobach said he was within his right to ride a Jeep in a weekend parade with a replica machine gun mounted on the vehicle.

The city of Shawnee has been the center of controversy since Saturday. Many are upset with Kobach for appearing in public with what appeared to be a high-powered automatic weapon.

On Monday, Kobach told reporters the gun is a replica, and it can't hurt anyone. Kobach said the uproar caught him off guard and that most reactions on Saturday were fine.

"I've never been in any vehicle that got so much positive reaction," Kobach said Monday.

The Jeep was parked on Monday afternoon at Herman Laird Park in Shawnee, just a few feet from where Saturday's parade ended. The old Jeep C-J, which is wrapped in a red, white and blue American flag theme, is adorned with both the Second Amendment and a bobblehead depicting President Donald Trump.

Kobach's social media channels have carried photos of the Jeep and its long-rifled firearm, as well as angry reactions from some Tweeters.

"For the past century, more than 80-90 percent of all the parades in America have firearms in them," Kobach told reporters Monday.

"Guns and firearms of the American military have been in parades all our lives," he said. "If the left is going to tell us we can't have that anymore because guns are no longer socially acceptable, then I'm going to tell them to go take a hike because I'm going to take this gun to more parades."

Kobach borrowed the Jeep from his hunting buddy, Don Erbert, who said the two first discussed using the Jeep in parades during a hunt this past winter.

"We didn't see anything out of the ordinary. We saw a few people with their thumbs up and having a good time, so I wouldn't have dreamed we'd be here to be honest," Erbert said.

"The Jeep is a great symbol of American patriotism. Just because a few people on the left are cranky and don't like guns say they're offended by the sight of a gun, I'm not going to change my behavior," Kobach said steadfastly.

This weekend, the city of Shawnee apologized for Kobach's display of that gun. People in attendance at Saturday's parade who'd complained to the city said the gun scared them.

Kobach said the gun is a replica, and the Jeep is meant to celebrate the American military, gun freedom and American strength.

"I disagree. I like all three," Kobach said.

"If someone is so offended by the sight of a gun they protest and make a big fuss about it, and they say this shouldn't be allowed in a parade, I think that person really is a snowflake, and I don't think that person should vote for me," he said.

FOX4 reached out to the Old Shawnee Days parade committee. Mickey Sandifer, a Shawnee city council member, is also a festival official.

"We can't stop people from getting in the parade. People have a right to their own opinions,” Sandifer told FOX4. “There’s going to be backlash no matter what you do.”

Some online complaints center around school shootings, and a heightened call for gun control in the United States. Kobach said he's not backing down, despite the mixed public reaction, and he plans to use the Jeep and replica gun at another parade soon.