Georgia Republican Candidate Promises to Give Away AR-15 Gun to Protect Against 'Looting Hordes'

A Republican running for Congress to represent Georgia's 9th district has said anyone who signs up for his email mailing list will have a chance to win an AR-15 rifle, saying that the weapon can be used against "looting hordes."

Paul Broun, who previously served in the House of Representatives for Georgia's 10th district from 2007 to 2015, posted a video announcing the giveaway in early April. The former congressman argued that such a weapon was especially necessary amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"In uncertain times like these, the right to defend yourself and your property and your family could not be more important," Broun, 73, said in the clip. He referred to the weapon as a "liberty machine."

"Whether it's looting hordes from Atlanta, or a tyrannical government from Washington, there are few better liberty machines than an AR-15," he said.

A press release about the giveaway explained that Broun "announced an endorsement from Gun Owners of America…and launched a gun giveaway sweepstakes to celebrate it, featuring a web video asking for email signups in exchange for a chance to win an AR-15 rifle."

Some have argued that Broun's comments about "looting hordes from Atlanta" were racist, because the city has a majority black population. But Broun pushed back against this assertion in a Tuesday interview with The Guardian. He insisted his giveaway and message was for voters, regardless of race.

"It's about black people having the means of protecting themselves just as much as white people or Hispanic people or Asian people," the congressional contender told the interviewer. He also suggested that she was "racist," while noting that he'd previously been "a keynote speaker at an MLK Day celebration."

Broun is seeking to win the seat currently held by Republican Representative Doug Collins, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump. Collins is not seeking re-election, as he is challenging GOP lawmaker Kelly Loeffler for her Senate seat. Loeffler was appointed by Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp to temporarily replace Senator Johnny Isakson, who stepped down in December due to health issues.

Paul Broun
In this screen grab, Paul Brown, a Republican running to represent Georgia's 9th Congressional District, touts an AR-15 rifle dubbed a "liberty machine" in a campaign video published on April 3 YouTube/screenshot

Demand for guns has surged in parts of the U.S. as the coronavirus pandemic has spread. Newsweek previously reported that the FBI had seen a 300 percent increase in background checks to purchase guns in a single day on March 16.

"A lot of people believe in individualism and figure that 'Really, I really am my first responder, what if I can't protect my family when seconds count and law enforcement is minutes away.' That is an American thought," Stephen Halbrook, a constitutional attorney and author of The Founders' Second Amendment, told Newsweek in early April.