SHAWNEE, Kan. — Some say it was a controversial choice by Kansas Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach. On June 2, the politician rode through the Old Shawnee Days parade with a believed replica machine gun on a Jeep wrapped in an American flag decal.
On Twitter, Kobach defended the decision by posing with the car with the reportedly fake machine gun mounted on top.
“Had a blast riding in the Old Shawnee Days Parade in this souped up jeep with a replica gun,” Kobach stated. “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.”
On Sunday, as the public criticism continued, Kobach doubled down on his decision with a tweet referencing “a snowflake meltdown” and “outrage culture.”
Residents FOX4 spoke with had mixed feelings on the choice. Some loved the move, and others found it to be disrespectful.
“There’s enough violence in this world. We don’t need a politician doing that,” Anita Sifuentes said.
“I think everyone has the right to bear arms, so I’m alright with it,” Jason Carter said.
The City of Shawnee apologized on Saturday “for the concern and frustration” it caused parade attendees. The city isn’t taking sides on the issue, but they may be changing the rules to their parade that is a yearly tradition.
“What happened yesterday was clear that we probably need some set guidelines, so moving forward we have kind of a set of rules to say this is what’s okay, and this is what’s not,” Julie Breithaupt, a communications manager with the City of Shawnee, said.
Breithaupt said they received feedback from the community at the event, and on social media. Some said they liked what Kobach did, but others expressed fear.
Former Missouri Sec. of State Jason Kander weighed in on Facebook. Kander, a native of Overland Park, Kan. said, “If Kobach loves big machine guns so much, maybe he should have joined the Army instead of just playing pretend.”
“We in no way want them to come to these community events and have them feel unsafe, and that was certainly not the intent of any of our community events,” Breithaupt added.
On Twitter, Kobach talked about what he stands for, and why he supports 2nd amendment rights, but didn’t address those at the parade who didn’t understand if the gun was real.
“What he did yesterday shows total ignorance, because you don’t do that in public,” Sifuentes said. “Whether it was a toy gun or it wasn’t, that was just showing lack of consideration for the people, period.”
“I think everybody has the right to carry if they want to carry, and if they don’t then they don’t have to, but they’ll go running to someone with a gun if they need help,” Carter said.
Breithaupt said they know everyone has their opinions and are entitled to them, but the most important thing is that they feel safe in their community.
“We really strive to be all inclusive. We want everybody to feel comfortable to be here whether they’re a political candidate, or your next door neighbor who’s in tae kwon do. We want them all to feel like they could all be in the Old Shawnee Days parade,” Breithaupt said.
Breithaupt said she doesn’t know what the new guidelines would be, and that is something on which city officials will have to work with their attorneys.
FOX4 reached out to Kobach for an official statement, but have not heard back.