80ºF

Candidate for Georgia governor under fire for pointing gun at teen in ad

'Get over it,' Republican Brian Kemp tells online critics

photo

ATLANTA – A Republican candidate for governor of Georgia is coming under intense criticism online for airing a campaign ad in which he points a shotgun at a teenage boy.

Brian Kemp doesn't appear to be phased by internet outrage, telling critics to simply "get over it."

In the ad, Kemp appears with a teenage actor playing the role of a boy named Jake, who wants to take Kemp's daughter to the prom. The two are surrounded by weapons including two AR-15 rifles, and Kemp has a shotgun on his lap pointed toward the boy.

Kemp said the ad is lighthearted and is meant to be a spoof of over-protective Southern fathers.

But the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence wrote that the ad “delivers a message perpetuating domestic violence and misogyny while modeling egregiously unsafe behavior.” Even supporters of gun rights have blasted the ad, saying gun owners should never point a weapon at a target they don't intend to shoot.

"I'm a gun owner. I'm generally in favor of responsible gun ownership, and against being idiotically unsafe," one comment on Kemp's Facebook page read. "You think it's a good idea to point a shotgun at some high school kid? You're a fool. If you were a member of my local gun club that stunt would get you permanently banned."

On Twitter, many made a connection between the teen and the student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, who have been pressing for stricter gun laws.

"Have you seen the campaign ad for Brian Kemp?  In the wake of Parkland and thousands upon thousands of children and teens marching for their lives, the ad shows Kemp pointing a rifle at a teen," Mary Craven wrote on Twitter. "How tone deaf can you be?!"

Local TV stations in Georgia have received numerous complaints about the spot from viewers, but Federal Communications Commission rules prohibit them from pulling political advertisements. 

Others praised the ad, saying it's doing exactly what Kemp wants it to do -- get him attention in a crowded and competitive Republican primary.

"Watching all the liberals lose their collective minds over this commercial is great," another comment on Kemp's Facebook page read.