Extremist Gun Group Talks Of 'Firepower We Have To Unload' On Democratic Candidates

As U.S. agencies warn of violence ahead of the midterms, the American Firearms Association is targeting "gun-grabbing candidates" with overheated rhetoric.

Days after federal agencies warned of a heightened threat of violent attacks on political candidates, an extremist gun rights group on Monday urged supporters to give it money so it can figure out “how much firepower we have to unload on gun-grabbing candidates” in Senate races in key battleground states.

“At midnight tomorrow, we’ll know exactly how much firepower we have to unload on gun-grabbing candidates in AZ, NV, GA, PA and OH as we head into next week’s election day,” reads a fundraising email from the American Firearms Association.

The email from the group, whose president casually mentioned in another recent fundraising email that he was under FBI investigation, says it is falling short of what it hoped to raise for its “U.S. Senate Second Amendment Ad fundraising blitz.”

“We’re looking for 411 of our AFA supporters to ... give us all the resources we need to drive the final nail into Joe Biden’s gun control agenda!” reads the email. It directs supporters to an angry-looking photo of Biden and asks for a minimum donation of $17.76, a reference to the year 1776, the year of the American Revolution.

Here’s a screenshot of AFA’s email, which used the subject line “36 hours left and then we roll!”:

The extremist gun group American Firearms Association is emailing supporters for money so it can figure out "how much firepower we have to unload on gun-grabbing candidates."
The extremist gun group American Firearms Association is emailing supporters for money so it can figure out "how much firepower we have to unload on gun-grabbing candidates."
American Firearms Association

The email doesn’t mention specific names of Senate candidates, but it is referring to Democrats Mark Kelly (Ariz.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Raphael Warnock (Ga.), John Fetterman (Pa.) and Tim Ryan (Ohio). These are all battleground states where the winning candidates could determine which party controls the Senate next year.

None of these candidates is grabbing for people’s guns. All but Fetterman are currently in Congress, and the most action Democrats have taken to rein in the nation’s epidemic of gun violence is passing a modest bill that includes money for boosting mental health care, enhances background checks for people under 21 and puts restrictions on abusive domestic partners obtaining guns.

The timing of AFA’s email is particularly reckless. Three days ago, U.S. security agencies warned of “a heightened risk” of domestic violent attacks by political extremists leading up to next week’s midterm elections. The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Capitol Police and the National Counterterrorism Center specifically said political candidates and election workers are potential targets of attacks.

Their warning comes after the FBI issued another bulletin earlier this month that election workers were facing unprecedented threats in seven states: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin.

Four of those states are the same states that AFA just told its supporters it needs money for to figure out “how much firepower we have to unload on gun-grabbing candidates.”

The government’s warnings of an uptick in political violence came on the same day that a man broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and assaulted her husband with a hammer. He was looking for the House speaker, shouting, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?”, and when he discovered she wasn’t there, he reportedly tried to tie up Paul Pelosi and said he would wait “until Nancy got home.”

Republicans have long demonized Pelosi and often used violent rhetoric to attack her. Over the weekend, CNN’s Margaret Brennan tore into Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, for recently tweeting a video showing him shooting a gun while using the hashtag #FirePelosi ― days before Pelosi’s husband was violently attacked.

The American Firearms Association is notorious for dabbling in violent rhetoric. In June, it sent an email to supporters urging them to prepare for “battle” at the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers expedited efforts to pass bipartisan gun safety legislation. Its language echoed the statements made by Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, when he whipped up supporters at a rally to storm the Capitol to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden as president. That led to a violent insurrection.

“They’re coming after us right now,” AFA President Christopher Dorr said in that email. “Our federal legislative team believes that because of the enormity of the battle this week in DC, there will be thousands or even tens of thousands of Bloomberg-funded, red shirt radical, commie mommies all over the Capitol complex.”

An AFA spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment about why the group is using violent gun rhetoric as it talks about Democratic candidates.

Peter Ambler, the executive director and co-founder of the gun safety group Giffords, said it’s time for people to “take a hard look” at the dangerous, extremist right-wing rhetoric being used in the political sphere.

“Public service should not mean putting yourself and your loved ones in harm’s way,” said Ambler. “If we want to make this a country where everyone is safe ―from children to public servants to law enforcement officers ― we must take a hard look at our country’s gun laws, the violent rhetoric being spewed by the extreme right, and the role of guns in our democracy.”

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