Kris Kobach made his way through a parade in Johnson County Saturday morning, waving from an American flag colored jeep with a large gun mounted in back.
The city of Shawnee later issued an apology for Kobach’s display.
The sight of Kobach, a Republican candidate for Kansas governor, in the vehicle at the Old Shawnee Days parade stunned some onlookers and quickly sparked criticism on social media.
“It was pretty shocking,” said pastor Johnny Lewis of Shawnee Community Christian Church. “There were audible gasps from the folks we were sitting by.”
Lewis said he respects the views of people on both sides of the Second Amendment debate, but found the display inappropriate in a crowd filled with kids at a time when many of them, like his 6-year-old daughter, are scared that they might be victims of a school shooting.
“Why was that necessary sir?” Lewis said on Facebook, directing his comments at Kobach. “My child didn’t need that today.”
Kobach’s campaign was quick to defend the candidate’s decision to wave at the crowd standing next to what appeared to be a .50 caliber machine gun.
“The gun is a replica,” Kobach spokeswoman Danedri Herbert said in a text message.
“The Secretary says those who use the excuse of school violence to restrict the right to bear arms are deeply misguided. We need to stand up for our Second Amendment rights and recognize the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”