Michael Williams’ gubernatorial campaign got some national attention this week for a planned give away of a controversial gun device.
Earlier this week, Williams, who represents the majority of Forsyth County as the District 27 state senator and is running for governor in 2018, sent an email blast to supporters saying he is opposed to “regulating or banning bump stocks” and will be giving one of the devices away.
Bump stocks have been a topic of national debate following the Oct. 1 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, where bump stocks were reportedly found on 12 of the shooters’ guns.
At least 58 died in the shooting and more than 500 others were injured.
Bump stocks are a replacement for a rifle’s original stock which allows the rest of the gun to move freely. The recoil motion moves the rifle back and forth from the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger, which doesn’t move, essentially turning a semi-automatic weapon fully-automatic.
The National Rifle Association has previously said “devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” but has not supported a recent bill to ban them, which the organization has called “overreaching,” due to fears it would also ban other firearm accessories, such as aftermarket triggers.
In an email Monday, Williams said the events in Las Vegas “broke his heart” but an “attack on bump stocks is an attack on the Second Amendment.”
“The bump stock is the new, shiny object politicians are using to deceive voters into believing they are taking action against gun violence,” Williams said in the email. “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.”
Williams said the national conversation should be about mental health instead of the devices and said giving away the bump stock was a “show of support.”
It didn’t take long for Williams’ remarks to reach major news networks CNN, NBC and CBS
Williams also mixed it up online with TV and film stars about the giveaway.
Actor Mark Ruffalo, who plays Marvel’s Incredible Hulk, called Williams “sick” in a tweet and TV host Montel Williams accused Williams of “pulling political stunts” and hurting “responsible gun owners.”
Williams and Montel Williams had a twitter spat back and forth, with the candidate saying “the left wants to censor our message” and calling bump stocks “a novelty item - like your TV show was.”
“I guess we should expect this from the left. They want to shut down people with conservative views,” Williams said in an email on Wednesday. “This is the price for defending the [Second] Amendment. I will not back down. That's their goal and we will not give in to them.
This is not the first time Williams’ campaign has generated controversy. In July, Williams said Democrats must “accept fault” for a Gwinnett County woman’s rape by an illegal immigrant, and in June, he appeared in a photo with armed members of a militia group at a rally against Islamic law.
Williams defended both saying he was not politicizing the rape but was raising awareness of an issue few are comfortable talking about and called the reaction to the photo the “liberal left … spreading vicious false attacks to make me someone I'm not.”
In late-September, Williams held a rally at a Cherokee County high school demanding a teacher who asked students to remove pro-Trump shirts be fired. The teacher resigned on Thursday at a meeting of the Cherokee County School Board.
“This is a huge victory for Team Williams,” Campaign Manager Seth Weathers said in an email “Michael Williams led supporters in a protest at the school demanding she be fired, bringing needed media attention to an issue that was being swept under the rug.”