Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker opposes gun safety laws. He also has a history of reckless use of firearms.
Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat in Georgia held by incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, is running as a staunch opponent of legislation to curb gun violence.
A former professional football player and contestant on former President Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" television show, Walker's campaign website promises that he will fight against new gun laws and confirm "Constitutional judges to our courts who will protect our right to bear arms."
Accompanied by a photo of the candidate wearing a red MAGA-style cap and aiming a rifle, Walker posted a fundraising message on Facebook on Jan. 24: "I will ALWAYS stand up for the Second Amendment. No law-abiding American should EVER be denied their rights... our Constitution is NOT up for negotiation!!"
Warnock won a January 2021 special election runoff to serve the remainder of the unexpired term of Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson and is now seeking a full six-year term in the November midterm election.
Warnock has been endorsed by the organization Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, which praised him as "a champion for gun safety in the Senate" who has supported "legislation that would close loopholes in our gun laws that allow people who have committed domestic abuse to access firearms, require background checks on all gun sales, and secure funding for community violence initiatives and gun violence research."
In June, the Democratic incumbent backed the Bipartisan Community Safety Act, saying that the compromise gun legislation included "common-sense policies supported by a majority of Georgians and Americans."
The Walker campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story, but a review of Walker's past words and deeds shows he has opposed any restrictions on guns, while also engaging in dangerous behavior with his own firearms.
Thinks universal background checks are unconstitutional
In a July 19 press release, Walker's campaign attacked Warnock for his support of a bill that would mandate universal background checks for all gun purchasers.
The release called the incumbent "one of the leading advocates of gun control in the Senate" and said he "has been vocal about targeting law-abiding citizens who lawfully possess firearms for years. Warnock is a cosponsor of S. 736, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021 Act, and S. 529, the Background Check Expansion Act, two pieces of legislation that infringe on Georgian's [sic] Second Amendment rights."
A poll of Georgia adults conducted in July by SurveyUSA for Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA TV found that 85% back requiring all gun buyers to undergo a background check.
Dangerous handling of firearms
In 2015, Walker appeared on ESPN's program "Highly Questionable" and was asked if he had ever played Russian roulette, in which a person puts a single bullet in one of the chambers of a revolver, spins the cylinder, places the gun against their head, and pulls the trigger.
Walker answered that he had played it "more than once" before seeking mental health treatment. "If you came to my home, and you wanted to challenge me at everything — anything — I didn't think you were worthy enough, because I work out like a madman," he explained.
"I still work out today, all the time. And I think some people don't put the time in. So, I would take a bullet, put it in the cylinder, spin it, and tell you to pull it," Walker recounted. "People said, 'Herschel, you're nuts.' They'd walk away, I'd take that gun, put it to my head, and snap it."
In a 2008 interview with ABC News about Walker's dissociative identity disorder diagnosis, his ex-wife Cindy Grossman alleged that he had threatened her with a gun.
"We were talking and the next thing I knew," she recounted, "he just kind of raged and he got a gun and put it to my temple.'"
In a CNN interview that year, she said he had put a gun to her head multiple times and also threatened to cut her with knives.
Walker has said he does not recall the incidents, but that he is "accountable to whatever I've done."
A June Atlanta Journal-Constitution report on Walker's false claims that he worked in law enforcement also noted a police report documenting that Walker had threatened to shoot at police officers when they responded to a domestic dispute call to his house in September 2001.
An AP story in February also noted the incident, adding that the police confiscated a handgun from his vehicle and put Walker on a "caution list."
Experts say that there is no evidence that people with mental health issues are more likely to commit gun violence. But studies have shown that mass shootings often involve people with a history of domestic violence.
Walker does not appear to have specifically answered questions about his attitude toward "red flag" laws, extreme risk protection order legislation intended to temporarily disarm those adjudicated to be a danger to themselves or others, but has generally opposed efforts "to take away the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to self-defense."
Senate Republicans have stymied efforts to enact a national extreme risk protection order law.
Proposed spying on internet users as a solution to gun violence
After the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24 that left 19 kids and two adults dead, Walker was asked by CNN whether he would support any gun violence legislation.
"What I like to do is see it and everything and stuff. I like to see it," he replied and then walked away.
Two days later, in a Fox News interview, Walker offered a solution: "What about getting a department that can look at young men that's looking at women that's looking at social media. What about doing that, looking into things like that, and we can stop that that way. But yet they want to just continue to talk about taking away your constitutional rights. And I think there are more things you need to look into."
Suggested prayer as the way to end mass shootings
In the same Fox News appearance on May 26, Walker suggested that prayer — rather than gun safety legislation — would curb mass shootings: "We've gotta get back into prayer. People thinking now praying is bad. No, it's not bad. We need to pray for things like that. We need to continue to go out and fight, continue to take your constitutional rights away, and I think we can't do that."
In a June 6 appearance at a Georgia church, Walker again suggested prayer as a strategy for countering gun violence:
People wanna erase God. You know, you hear people don't wanna talk about God. Even just the other day, and I don't want to get too political here, when the shooting happened in Texas, you heard all these people on TV said, Now, I don't want to hear nobody praying. That's what we need is prayer. We need to get back to prayer because we've gotten — we've gotten in this country where we've tried to walk away from prayer. You know, we've, let's be honest now, we gotta blame ourselves because we raised our kids that everybody get a trophy.
Opposed the bipartisan gun compromise — after backing idea and saying it didn't go far enough
On June 12, a group of Republican and Democratic senators agreed on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a compromise bill aimed at "commonsense" steps to stem gun violence.
A day later, Walker praised the initial framework, saying, "But at this point, it's just that — a framework. With these DC politicians you always have to check the fine print."
On June 28, he appeared on WDUN radio with conservative talk show host Martha Zoller. Asked about the passage of the bill on "Second Amendment restrictions," Walker praised it and said he wished it had gone even further:
Well, I'm glad to see the Democrat and Republican [sic] come together to get something done with the Second Amendment. I don't think it went far enough because it really didn't address one of the real, real problems, I think, with the mental health. I think that is a real strong thing that's happening. And I think right now, just for them to come together, at least address some of it is very important.
A day later, Walker spokesperson Mallory Blount tweeted, "Herschel was referring to the mental health aspect of the bill not going far enough. He would not have voted for the bill."
We need guns to protect ourselves from our government
At an Aug. 11 press conference, Walker was asked about the recent cancellation of Midtown Music, a music festival that had been scheduled for September in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, because, reports said, the organizers were afraid Georgia's gun laws would not permit them to ban firearms from the festival.
Walker said, in remarks posted by the Republican National Committee:
I don't know a lot about that, but I would love to learn a little bit more and I'll get back to you. But right now, I think right now with the screening for guns and all this. I believe in the Second Amendment. You have to have the right to bear arms, but not to shoot my fellow citizen. The right to bear arms was against government. We didn't want the government to get out of our reach, which it seems like that's what we're doing now. So the right to bear arms was to protect yourself against the government.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation