Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is doubling down after his souped-up red, white, and blue Jeep topped with a replica machine gun caused a “snowflake meltdown” over the weekend.
Kobach, a Republican running for governor in Kansas, rode the eye-catching Jeep in the Old Shawnee Days parade, named after the Kansas City-suburb:
The candidate tweeted that he “had a blast” at the parade on Saturday:
Some people who were at the parade or saw Kobach’s tweet expressed outrage and shock on social media. The official Twitter account of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management (KDEM) insulted Kobach in a tweet that was quickly deleted. KDEM later claimed that its Twitter account had been hacked.
A local pastor criticized Kobach in a now-deleted Facebook post, saying his six-year-old “worries constantly about school shootings.”
“Why was that necessary, sir? My child didn’t need that today. Don’t care what your position is on second amendment that is completely unnecessary,” complained Pastor Johnny Lewis of Shawnee Community Christian Church in the post.
Lewis also told the Kansas City Star that his concern wasn’t about Kobach’s support for gun rights, but rather about the potential upset he caused to young children who came to watch the parade.
“My greatest concern today was not Kris Kobach’s political position. It was that in a world where our children … live with anxiety about school shootings and do intruder drills regularly that any politician thought it was OK to drive through a crowd of children with an automatic weapon pointed at the crowd,” the pastor said.
The city of Shawnee issued a public apology in a statement “for the concern or frustration involved with the parade entry” and suggested that it may change parade rules.
“Please know that the safety of our residents is always our highest priority and we apologize if this made anyone feel unsafe or unsettled. We will be taking steps in the future to try to ensure something similar does not happen again,” the statement read.
“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.
Despite the backlash, Kobach remained defiant, saying he would not “back down in the face of a snowflake meltdown and outrage culture”:
Kobach has long been a defender of Second Amendment rights. In fact, on the same day students nationwide held walkouts for gun control, he spoke at a pro-gun rights rally in front of the Kansas capitol.
In response to Kobach’s first tweet, the official, verified account of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, tweeted on Sunday: “Hey Kris, I think you are a bad guy with a gun. Also, maybe worse, you a dumb guy with a gun.”
— KCTV5 News (@KCTV5) June 3, 2018
The message was deleted within about a half-hour and state officials later claimed that the Twitter account had been hacked.
The Adjutant General’s Department, which oversees the Division of Emergency Management, sent out a written statement regarding “the breach.”
“The Adjutant General’s Department has deleted the tweet and has taken the necessary measures to fix the breach,” the statement said.