The City of Shawnee is apparently afraid of military equipment being viewed by kids and touchy adults. After Secretary of State Kris Kobach appeared in the Old Shawnee Days Parade in a red, white and blue jeep with a replica of a traditional machine gun mounted on the back, criticism from some parade watchers, and the city, was swift.
Kobach responded to that criticism in a tweet Sunday evening, writing the “outrage” over the replica gun in the parade is “the left trying to attack guns and your #2A (Second Amendment) rights.”
The Republican candidate for governor was greeted with applause and cheers but a few watching the parade expressed criticism on social media. They said it was inappropriate for a crowd full of kids, some of whom may be afraid of becoming a victim to school shootings. Local media outlets, which are not friendly to the Republican who has strong views on the 2nd Amendment and securing the nation’s borders, were quick to blame Kobach for ruining the spirit of the parade.
The replica Kobach displayed in his float was a nonfunctioning Browning M2 .50-caliber machine gun, according to Greg Langner, the general manager and gunsmith for Tactical Advantage LLC in Overland Park.
Langner, who has more than a decade of experience in shooting sports, said that the Browning M2 has been used by the United States military since World War II. It is a belt-fed firearm that is typically mounted to vehicles, or set up in fixed fighting positions.
Anyone familiar with parades across the country that typically occur on Veterans Day, Independence Day and Memorial day, might recognize the equipment as standard gear meant to honor the armed services.
Anything to do with the U.S. Military might now be taboo in the age of political correctness and hyper-sensitive individuals easily set off by any display of American military power or guns. That includes Shawnee city officials.
The city of Shawnee issued an apology saying they “apologize for the concern or frustration involved with the parade entry.
“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.
“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.
Nothing was mentioned about the armed color guard that was also a part of the parade.
Kobach tweeted about the event, writing “had a blast riding in the Old Shawnee Days Parade in this souped-up jeep with a replica gun. 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.”
“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.
Kobach later appeared on Fox News, saying his parade entry symbolized the military, the 2nd Amendment and America’s strength, and that for most people it is the “perfect parade vehicle.” He said the crowd reaction was “overwhelmingly positive. I’ve been in dozens of parades, and never had so much positive reaction.”
When Fox host Brian Kilmeade asked him why he thought some people on the left reacted so negatively, Kobach called it a “snowflake meltdown,” and said that they were trying to make guns “socially unacceptable” and unwelcome in parades. He said he hoped people would push back against that idea and say “that’s not the country we are.” He said the response from city officials represented a “sad state of affairs,” and that they should have responded with “There’s nothing wrong with a firearm and he had every right to bring it.”
“I’ll be taking it to other parades as well,” Kobach said.
Kilmeade then asked “So you’re not going to stop here?”
“We’re not backing down,” Kobach quickly replied.
Kobach, a Kansas gubernatorial candidate, is a defender of gun-rights and a strong supporter of funding the nation’s military and veterans benefits.
No word yet if Shawnee will ban Memorial Day, which of course, is a holiday to honor those who used such equipment and often gave their lives for the freedom to display it in a parade.