Kari Lake, the Republican gubernatorial candidate for Arizona in the 2022 midterms, has posted a defiant pro-guns message just days after a deadly school shooting, telling a gun control activist to “come and take it.”
The Trump-endorsed nominee, who lost to her Democrat rival, but continues to claim the election was subject to fraud, campaigned on a platform of protecting Second Amendment rights and vowed to defy federal laws on gun ownership.
Her social media post came just three days after the shooting of six people—three nine-year-old children and three members of staff—at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department identified the shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Elizabeth Hale, who had previously attended the school. She arrived that day with three guns including two assault weapons.
On Wednesday, David Hogg, a 22-year-old March for Our Lives activist who survived a school shooting in 2018, tweeted: “Thank god I graduate in a few months so I can get to kicking the NRAs a** full time.”
The National Rifle Association reacted to the shooting by claiming enhanced school security acts as a “deterrent” for such crimes, before praising the two police officers who fatally shot Hale.
A short while later, Lake responded to Hogg with an image depicting a star, a rifle and the slogan “come and take it.” Hogg replied with an image of a protest portraying people in body bags laid out in front of the U.S. Capitol, adding: “This is the ‘freedom’ you are fighting for.”
Newsweek contacted Lake’s campaign via email on Thursday to ask for comment.
The former TV news anchor has been a staunch support of Second Amendment rights, often railing against any potential impediments to those rights on safety grounds.
In September 2021, she told right-wing outlet Breitbart News: “If we did not have our guns right now they would have taken our power and we would be powerless. We would not be America.”
In a follow-up tweet a few days later, Lake voiced her opposition to red flag laws—a process which allows people to ask a civil court to temporarily remove a person’s firearm if they are thought to pose a risk to the public—as well as magazine capacity limits and gun free zones, such as those in place in some schools and airports. “Shall. Not. Be. Infringed.,” she wrote.
Nearly a year later, when Congress was considering passing a red flag law, Lake suggested she would defy the federal government over the matter if elected.
“When I’m Governor, Arizona will not recognize unconstitutional gun laws in our state. We just won’t do it,” she said. “What are the Feds going to do? Fly down here and arrest a sitting Governor? Call my bluff.”
Her comments prompted the Everytown gun safety advocacy group to launch a $500,000 ad campaign that highlighted her opposition to a law, which it argued would help prevent mass shootings, according to NBC News.
Lake has refused to concede the gubernatorial election in Arizona, and even after her Democratic opponent Katie Hobbs‘ January 2 swearing-in ceremony, she has continued to claim that the election was “botched” and “rigged.” Lake lost to Hobbs by 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent—a difference of just under 18,000 votes.
Lake has mounted several unsuccessful legal challenges to have the vote overturned. In late January, Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes wrote to the state’s attorney general requesting an investigation into Lake after she tweeted a graphic containing images of 16 voter signatures, which Fontes argued amounted to a violation of election laws.