Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters says gun violence is 'gangs. It's people in Chicago, St. Louis shooting each other. Very often, you know, Black people, frankly.'
Millionaire venture capitalist Blake Masters won the Arizona Republican Senate primary on Aug. 2 to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in November. He is vowing to be the most pro-gun senator in his state's history.
Masters, who received only 39% of the primary vote, has touted his endorsement by Donald Trump, who wrote, "Blake will fight for our totally under-siege Second Amendment, and WIN! It is my great honor to give Blake Masters my Complete and Total Endorsement!"
Throughout the primary campaign, Masters put his passionate opposition to virtually any gun violence legislation and his pride in his own massive firearms cache at the forefront of his message. "I'll be the most pro-2A Senator that Arizona has ever had," he tweeted on Oct. 4, 2021. "I've got the guns to prove it. Every Monday, I'll tell you about one of them."
Kelly, a former astronaut who won a 2020 special election for the Senate seat after the death of Sen. John McCain, is the husband of former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head and nearly killed in a 2011 mass shooting. He has embraced what he calls "commonsense reforms we can pass to reduce gun violence that align with our rights and traditions and are supported by Americans across the political spectrum" and helped negotiate the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that became law in June. Kara Waite, a volunteer leader with the Arizona chapter of Moms Demand Action, called him a "gun sense champion" during his 2020 campaign.
Polling conducted by OH Predictive Insights in July found that a large majority of Arizonans favor a number of measures to curb gun violence.
Masters told the Arizona Republic on Monday, "Congresswoman Giffords almost lost her life that day, and of course many other people did. And that's a horrible crime. She's an amazing survivor and she's just an inspiration in that sense. I understand that he's probably got some strong feelings on this issue. Wherever he got his view though, his view is the wrong view. He is a gun grabber. He just is. ... My message is, 'Hey, I'm sorry this horrible tragedy happened to your family. Truly. But that does not give you the right to take away Arizonans' constitutional rights."
At a campaign event in November in Cave Creek, Arizona, Masters affirmed that he would go after Kelly over his gun positions, telling his audience, "I think that issue is worth a few points in Arizona. ... Mark Kelly is a gun grabber, he wants to take away people's AR-15s. And I think we need to run a right candidate who's gonna say, like, No, I am sorry that that tragedy happened to your family, and that doesn't give you the right to take away our guns. I think that's what the electorate needs to hear."
The Masters campaign did not respond to an inquiry for this story. But he has made it clear that he opposes any regulation of gun ownership.
No new gun safety laws
In June 2022, just weeks after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 children and two teachers dead, Masters appeared on a talk radio station in Phoenix and was asked by host Billy Harfosh: "It just keeps happening. Would you support — do you recognize the need for changes around guns, given that you are a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and I do respect that. Semi-automatic weapons, stricter background checks? What would you support?"
Masters responded: "Well, I don't support anything that infringes on the Second Amendment, so I actually don't support further restrictions. Democrats talk about common sense gun control, but actually guns are actually highly regulated already."
Masters claimed that "the real gun violence problem is handguns. There's two subproblems: suicide, which is a mental health issue, and street violence, usually gang violence, which Democrats don't want to acknowledge and don't want to clean up at all. There's only about 300 to 400 murders every year committed with rifles." He said he wanted to "harden the schools" ("We protect everything valuable in our society with guns except children") and concluded: "No, I don't support restrictions on people's right to own and use firearms in self-defense. And ultimately the Second Amendment isn't even about self-defense, right? It's about defense of your nation. Anti-tyranny."
He also told the right-wing Center for Arizona for a "Meet the Candidate" survey that he opposes "expanding background checks to include guns purchased from private individuals."
Roll back existing gun laws
On his campaign website, Masters makes clear that he isn't just against new gun laws — he wants to roll back the laws currently on the books.
A section called "EXPAND GUN RIGHTS" says Masters' plan if elected would be to "fight to protect and expand your 2A [Second Amendment] rights by: Supporting Nationwide Concealed Carry; Eliminating or restructuring the ATF; Repealing the National Firearms Act (NFA); Opposing every kind of federal firearms database or gun registry; Opposing 'red flag' laws."
"You have my word: I'll lead with a 'from my cold, dead hands' mentality," Masters pledges.
In a June 2021 tweet he criticized existing regulation of firearms dealers: "Violent criminals get a free pass. Meanwhile small business owners (gun shops) provide citizens with self-defense, get 'zero tolerance' if they make a single good faith error trying to comply with intentionally complex, confusing, and probably unconstitutional gun laws."
Gun violence is mostly just a "Black people" problem
On April 11, Masters told right-wing podcast host Jeff Oravits: "They [Democrats] don't actually care about crime, right? We do have a gun violence problem in this country, and it's gang violence, right?" he baselessly claimed. "It's gangs. It's people in Chicago, St. Louis shooting each other. Very often, you know, Black people, frankly. And the Democrats don't want to do anything about that. Look at San Francisco and L.A. They've legalized crime, property crime. You can't even get arrested if you go and smash someone's window and take a purse or an iPhone. ... What they mean by 'gun control' is disarming you and me."
Protecting untraceable "ghost guns"
In April, the Biden administration announced a new rule barring
the business of manufacturing the most accessible ghost guns, such as unserialized 'buy build shoot' kits that individuals can buy online or at a store without a background check and can readily assemble into a working firearm in as little as 30 minutes with equipment they have at home. This rule clarifies that these kits qualify as "firearms" under the Gun Control Act, and that commercial manufacturers of such kits must therefore become licensed and include serial numbers on the kits' frame or receiver, and commercial sellers of these kits must become federally licensed and run background checks prior to a sale – just like they have to do with other commercially-made firearms.
Masters responded with a series of tweets showing a ghost gun that he had built himself and claiming: "I made this 'ghost gun' a few months ago. Very legal & very cool. But now, thanks to Biden's new rule change, I would be a felon if I made another one just like it today. ... Our founders built their own guns. They intended us to as well — it's the ultimate political act, a liberty the 2A protects."
A day later he appeared on a radio show hosted by right-wing figures Clay Travis and Buck Sexton and said: "I do not think it's common sense. It's what Democrats always say, right, common sense gun control. No, it's actually just about disarming law-abiding gun owners, right? It's about making it as hard as possible for you and me and everybody listening to this program to own and use and, yeah, make firearms."
No limits on who can carry firearms in public
Masters has opposed any regulation of who may openly carry firearms in public places.
"Of course you have the right to carry a gun," he tweeted in April 2021. "That's why the 2A says 'keep and bear' not just 'keep'. (You have a right to 'bear arms' in... only your house? Come on.)"
The Constitution protects the right to buy large magazines
In November 2021, he criticized a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a California state law limiting firearm magazines to 10 rounds.
"The 9th Circuit is a left-wing superlegislature," he tweeted. "California's ban on >10-round magazines is arbitrary and unconstitutional. In the Senate, I will only vote to confirm judges who are committed to protecting gun rights. And believe me, I can tell the difference."
Proud of more than $15,000 worth of assault weapons, silencers, and other guns
In his mandatory personal financial disclosure filing in October 2021, Masters reported that he owns between $15,001 and $50,000 worth of "guns and silencers regulated by the National Firearm Act."
He also noted the existence of a "Trust established to hold weapons regulated by the National Firearms Act."
He has frequently shared pictures of his weapons collection on social media.
In May 2021, he tweeted pictures of three gun silencers and wrote, "To celebrate ATF nominee David Chipman's disastrous confirmation hearing (he gloats about women and children having been slaughtered in Waco and is a radical anti-gun activist), I picked up 3 new tax stamps today."
That December, he posted a photo of an assault rifle, asking his followers, "New build, what do you think? Should I spray paint it or keep it raw aluminum?"
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.