Governor criticizes lieutenant governor’s ‘dangerous’ rhetoric on guns

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Published: May. 31, 2022 at 12:44 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WRAL) - North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper criticized the state’s lieutenant governor Tuesday for some of his recent comments on guns, calling the remarks dangerous and shameful, according to WRAL-TV.

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson was at the National Rifle Association’s annual meetings this weekend, but the comments Cooper pointed to came from a sermon Robinson gave earlier this month in Nash County.

As he often does, Robinson ticked through a range of culture-war issues in his remarks.

Then, a day after a gunman killed 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., Robinson told the church that he owns AR-15 rifles, the style of gun used in the Buffalo mass shooting and many others. Robinson, a Republican, said he enjoys target shooting, but that’s not why he has the guns.

“I got them AR-15s in case the government gets too big for its britches,” he said. “Because I’m going to fill the backside of those britches with some lead. I’m going to say it to you plain: Your boy ain’t going down without swinging.”

Cooper, a Democrat, Tweeted a clip of Robinson’s speech and called it “dangerous and not who we are as patriotic North Carolinians.”

“An elected official advocating violent overthrow of our [government] shames NC and puts our safety and our democracy at risk,” the governor said in the tweet.

A spokesman for Robinson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat and, like Robinson, a likely candidate for governor in 2024, backed Cooper up.

“Robinson’s statement is incredibly dangerous,” Stein said in his own Tweet. “To say that you have an AR-15 to shoot government officials is simply unacceptable. We need leaders who are focused on serving the public, not pushing pretend culture wars. We are better than this.”

In response, Robinson called Cooper and Stein “typical politicians.”

“No one with a brain thinks I’m calling for people to attack government officials,” he said in a statement provided by his office. “The Framers gave us the 2nd amendment to protect us from a tyrannical government. Period. Don’t be surprised if these two career politicians continue to attack me and try to skew my words - they are scared of me, and they don’t want me to be governor.”

Robinson first rose to prominence in North Carolina on the strength of a 2018 gun-rights speech he gave before the Greensboro City Council, which was considering canceling a gun show after a mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Robinson told church members this month that “this whole thing started for me” because “I just wanted to go buy an AR-15.”

In his sermon, as in the Greensboro speech, Robinson chided the government for changing gun laws for law-abiding citizens instead of focusing only on the shooter.

“I’m trying to figure out why is it every time somebody else shoots somebody, they take them down to jailhouse, and pat them on the head and give them cookies and then take care of them for the rest of their life,” he said, noting that the man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, John Hinkley Jr., is now free.

Robinson then criticized the Brady Bill that passed after the assassination attempt. Among other things, the bill mandated background checks on gun buyers.

“You still locked up ... up under the law they created to prevent future shootings,” Robinson told the church.

He also ticked off a string of tyrannical governments, telling listeners to read their history.

“When the government makes moves to disarm you, you need to be concerned. Very concerned,” he said. “When governments have all the power, governments always become tyrannical.”

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