The statement Gary Kiehne, a Republican candidate in Congressional District 1, made at a primary debate over the weekend that mass shooters are Democrats is untrue, irresponsible and disturbing.
When it comes to mass shootings, “if you look at all the fiascos that have occurred, 99 percent of them have been by Democrats pulling their guns out and shooting people,” Kiehne said to an audience of about 60 people. “So I don’t think you have a problem with the Republicans.”
By Monday morning, Kiehne apologized, saying that he had “since learned that the information that I based the comment off of was inaccurate and incorrect.” He didn’t explain his original source for a statement that is dubious on its face, but even a quick Internet search finds information that debunks the myth. For instance, the two mass shooters in Columbine, Colorado, weren’t old enough to vote.
Kiehne’s statement isn’t his only foray into the absurd. He’s compared undocumented immigrants to Vietnamese refugees and, in a recent Arizona Republic interview, likened police officers at checkpoints during the 2011 Wallow Fire to Nazi officers, saying he believed they were willing to “shoot you and me.”
Kiehne is a newcomer to politics — he’s a hotel operator and rancher from Eastern Arizona — and touts himself as an outsider against fellow Republicans Adam Kwasman and Andy Tobin, who are both state lawmakers.
Republican voters will decide Aug. 26 who they want as their standard bearer against incumbent Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick in the November general election.
This episode, and the lesson reaches beyond Kiehne, is a reminder of how important it is to pay attention to what candidates say and do. Such a blatant misunderstanding of history, lack of fact checking and proportionality are disturbing in any race for office, and voters are best served when these characteristics come to light.