Last year, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he seriously considered launching a 2022 U.S. Senate campaign. The Democratic governor even said he was confident he could win.
But as regular readers may recall, Cooper ultimately rejected the idea — not because he was worried about his Republican opponent, but because he was worried about his Republican successor. If the governor was elected to the Senate, Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson would become governor, and Cooper said he couldn’t in good conscience impose Robinson on North Carolinians.
We’re occasionally reminded why the governor was so concerned. The Charlotte Observer reported on comments Robinson made less than 24 hours after the racist mass shooting in Buffalo, when the lieutenant governor explained why he owns AR-15s
“I’ll tell anybody, I got them AR-15s at home and I like to go target shooting and all that. That’s not what they’re there for,” Robinson said. “I’m not ashamed to say it, I’m probably not supposed to say it, but I’m gonna say it anyway — I got them AR-15s in case the government gets too big for its britches,” he continued. “‘Cause I’m gonna fill the backside of them britches with some lead.”
In other words, according to North Carolina’s lieutenant governor, he has semi-automatic assault rifles on hand in case he feels the need to shoot Americans as part of his dissatisfaction with the government.
WRAL in Raleigh reported that Cooper shared a video clip of Robinson’s comments via social media, calling the Republican’s rhetoric “dangerous and not who we are as patriotic North Carolinians.”
The Democratic governor added, “An elected official advocating violent overthrow of our [government] shames NC and puts our safety and our democracy at risk.”
Attorney General Josh Stein, who’ll likely be a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2024, published a brief statement of his own. “Robinson’s statement is incredibly dangerous,” he wrote on Twitter. “To say that you have an AR-15 to shoot government officials is simply unacceptable. We need leaders who are focused on serving the public, not pushing pretend culture wars. We are better than this.”
Robinson responded soon after, “Don’t be surprised if these two career politicians continue to attack me and try to skew my words — they are scared of me, and they don’t want me to be governor.”
To the extent that reality matters, it’s hard to see how Cooper and Stein “skewed” the lieutenant governor’s words — the governor literally provided a video clip — but the idea that Democratic officials don’t want Robinson to be governor is no doubt true.
There’s also a larger context to consider. If the North Carolina Republican had a record of responsible governance and reasonable views, it might be tempting to see his AR-15 comments as some kind of radical departure. But the opposite is true.
Last fall, for example, Robinson described the LGBTQ community as “filth,” which was part of a larger library of offensive nonsense from Robinson.
Perusing Right Wing Watch’s archive, I found this striking report about North Carolina’s lieutenant governor declaring that the United States is a “Christian nation” — and he invited those who disagree to leave the country.
He’s added that officials could eliminate school shootings by having public schools teach that Jesus is the only way to salvation.
Robinson has also argued that firearms are a divine gift to humanity.
“God gave the garden slug a way to defend itself,” he argued. “Now, if God gave the garden slug a way to defend themselves, what makes you think he didn’t give man, who he created in his own image, a way to defend himself? Those AR-15s and Glock 9mms and .45 calibers; where do you think they came from? Who do you think inspired them? God knew the world he was putting us into, so he formed in our mind the ability for us to be able to defend ourselves from anybody who may threaten us.”
The North Carolina Republican is currently in his second year holding statewide office, following a highly controversial 2020 campaign.