Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

GOP candidate for governor: Bump stock 'prevented more casualties’ in Las Vegas


We are told that it is bad manners to discuss the causes of gun violence after one-man massacres that kill scores and wound hundreds like the one in Las Vegas.

The apparent exception to this rule: Republican candidates for governor in Georgia.

In the latest on a long list of attempts to grab attention, state Sen. Mike Williams of Cumming has developed a unique defense for the “bump stocks” used by the Las Vegas shooter to turn his single-shot arsenal into a cache of nine-rounds-a-second Gatling guns.

The gadgets made the killing field below the shooter's 32-floor hotel room less deadly, Williams argued in a press release late Monday that included this quote from the candidate:

“Many firearms experts determined the Las Vegas shooter’s use of a bump stock actually prevented more casualties and [injuries] due to its inconsistency, inaccuracy, and lack of control. There is zero evidence that banning bump stocks would prevent any gun violence deaths.”

In other words, sloppy mass killers are safer mass killers. As a public safety argument, this is more than unusual. Using the same logic, one could argue that we would all be more secure if guns were only in the hands of the legally blind. Nonetheless, in support of his position, Williams is giving away a bump stock to a “lucky winner” who registers at an internet location that we’d rather not share, thank you very much.

The Forsyth County businessman entered the race for governor by declaring, at a state GOP convention in June, that powers in the State Capitol had promised him chairmanship of the Senate budget committee if he would only withdraw. He has since provided no evidence.

In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, the NRA has said it’s willing to consider outlawing bump stocks, but only if this is done administratively, through the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. (There’s no need to subject members of Congress to any pressure from constituents.)

But in his Monday press release, Williams argued that that the ATF got it right the first time:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms determined in a 2015 memo that bump stocks are not mechanical, therefore they do not fall under the machine gun weapons ban of 1986. An attack on bump stocks is an attack on the Second Amendment….

"If politicians wanted to have a real conversation on reducing gun violence, they would be discussing mental health awareness, and ways to reduce the weekly bloodbath in Chicago and other inner cities. You cannot regulate evil out of existence. Blaming guns or bump stocks for the actions of a lunatic, is the same as blaming McDonald’s for heart disease.”

No, you can’t regulate evil out of existence. But it’s been a settled matter for some time that you don’t put a machine gun into its hands, either. And at some point, the person who would do so becomes an accomplice.

***

U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, is beginning to stock up for her re-election bid next year. The Republican had roughly $482,000 in the bank going into October, according to new federal filings, a formidable war chest for a first-term lawmaker. She raised $113,000 between July and the end of September, per those disclosures.

Handel's competition for the 2018 Sixth District race is still shaping up. Former Atlanta TV anchor Bobby Kaple, who entered the contest as a Democrat last week, didn't have to file a disclosure this quarter. Her other Democratic opponent, college professor Richard Keatley, ended the third quarter with $359 in debt. (Tamar Hallerman)

***

On a similar topic: The Marietta Daily Journal today gently chides U.S. Rep. Karen Handel for her lack of in-person, group encounters with voters:

Handel has not yet fulfilled her pledge to hold three, in-district, in-person, town hall meetings open to the general public. But given she only won the special election on June 20, there’s still ample time to do so before her first year in office is over.

***

The Democrat looming largest in the Sixth District race, Jon Ossoff, is staying on the sidelines for now, though he has dropped hints about a possible second run. His campaign committee, of course, didn't raise any cash in the third quarter, but it did report $294,000 in "other receipts." The money came from renting its email list to the Democratic campaign consulting shop Mothership Strategies. (TH)

***

Former House speaker and Trump confidant Newt Gingrich once again has a government role: diplomatic spouse. The Senate confirmed his wife Callista to be U.S. ambassador to Vatican City last night by a 70-23 margin. The onetime Georgia congressman was taught a crash course in being a diplomatic spouse at the State Department earlier this year. (TH)

***

She wasn’t calling Kasim Reed out by name, but his predecessor, Shirley Franklin, had sharp words for the tenor in City Hall. In an interview with Rashad Richey, Franklin said her approach was modeled after the “diplomatic” terms of former Atlanta mayors Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young.

“I don’t like the public fighting that I have seen over the last few years and the slamming each other – I don’t know what the current term is - denigrating people and name-calling and slanderous comments,” said Franklin. “I don’t like that from anybody, and I don’t like that from anyone. I think that’s unnecessary.”

Franklin said she won’t be endorsing any mayoral candidate – but that she “seriously” considered her own bid for office before deciding against it.(GB)

***

We're told U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., dined last night at the stately residence of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. He was one of a handful of Senate Republicans and moderate Democrats to discuss tax reform with the first daughter and her husband, both presidential advisers. (TH)

***

More Georgia judicial nominees are on the move in the U.S. Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on three administration picks for Georgia-based U.S. district judgeships on Thursday -- Billy Ray, Tripp Self and Michael Brown.  (TH)


Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.