The National Rifle Association rallied across Georgia for gubernatorial candidate Casey Cagle over the weekend, including a stop at the Governors Gun Club in Kennesaw.
From publicly threatening Delta on behalf of the NRA to pointing a shotgun at a teenager in a TV ad, appearing to be the biggest defender of guns has been a priority for both Republican campaigns for governor. So much so that sometimes even some of their supporters get confused.
Before this NRA rally for Lt. Gov. Cagle, Steve Jackson said he thought the gun group had endorsed Cagle’s Republican opponent, Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
“Somewhere along the grapevine, I had heard the NRA was also backing Kemp, but obviously that’s not true,” Jackson said.
He and his son were window-shopping in the gun club’s retail showcase as they waited for a spot on the range.
The difference between candidates Cagle and Kemp when it comes to guns is not all that significant to Jackson. He figures the NRA did its homework when endorsing Cagle.
The real political fight over guns in Georgia’s race for governor is yet to come. Speaking to Cagle supporters Saturday, incoming NRA President Ollie North honed in on Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, who will face Cagle or Kemp in the November general election.
“There’s no doubt she’s not a friend of gun owners or the Second Amendment or the freedoms that we enjoy in America,” North said. “It’s clear to me, that the Second Amendment, even though it doesn’t show on the ballot this year, is going to be on the ballot in November in every race across America.”
It’s a message that not every Georgia gun owner is sold on.
Angela Stover’s personal arsenal, more than 40 guns, includes several AR-15s and some black powder dueling pistols.
“I started with glocks. I’m a glock girl. Love my glocks,” Stover said.
She points to the one on her hip. She beams when her handgun’s pink grip draws a compliment from a Cagle supporter leaving the rally. Stover shoots competitively and is working on becoming an instructor. Both her heart and financial future are tied to guns, but they aren’t the only factor she votes on.
There are safety restrictions on guns she would support, as long as no one comes for her ARs. Stover voted for Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in past elections.
“I personally did not believe she was going to take away our guns,” Stover said.
That was a big NRA message that failed to sway Stover during the 2016 presidential election. And in the race for governor, she hasn’t ruled out voting for Abrams, whose campaign has highlighted domestic violence prevention.
“Every time I look at the news and I see where another woman has been attacked, it just riles me up because, it’s like, we’re targets. I’m tired of us being targets,” Stover said.
At the rally, the Cagle campaign was already looking past the July 24 GOP runoff against Kemp. After that, the stakes in the race for governor may get more complicated for some gun owners.