LENEXA, Kan. – All eyes at Lenexa’s Community Days Parade this Independence Day were on a replica machine gun. It sat atop a Jeep Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach rode in during the parade.
It’s the second time Kobach has ridden alongside the replica M2 machine gun in a parade in Johnson County. He debuted the gun June 3 during the Old Shawnee Days Parade.
“It definitely got my attention,” said Tom Gallup at Lenexa’s parade.
After being surprised by the gun, Shawnee sent out a rushed statement apologizing for any safety fears the fake gun may have created the day of its parade.
Lenexa had the benefit of anticipating the float. The city prepared a statement in case anyone asked. It said the city does not regulate replica firearms and the first amendment allows each float to present its message how they wish.
“I said I'm not going to back down I'm going to double down. So we’re taking it to more parades than we would have otherwise,” Kobach explained before the Lenexa parade.
Kobach's competition quickly brushed off the attention the gun gets.
“We're out here talking about people. I am interested in getting things done and not being a showman,” said current Gov. Jeff Colyer.
Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer had a similar response.
“We get plenty of attention. We get the attention we need. We get the attention from Kansans who really want a sound, thoughtful governor who has proven he can make good decisions," said Selzer.
Along the parade route, spectators expressed mostly indifference about the gun.
“It was right in front of us at the beginning of the parade, but it didn't ruin it or anything like that,” Gallup said.
Mother of two Lynn Ford stood out with a different opinion.
“I just think with all the gun safety things and our kids being out here, what type of image do we want our kids to know about our leaders?” Ford said.
Some wondered if this discussion is a distraction from what candidates should really talk about.
“There are lots and lots of different issues that need attention put to them,” said Gallup.
Colyer, Kobach and Selzer will square off with four other Republican candidates for governor during the primary election on August 7. The other candidates are Jim Barnett, Patrick "PK" Kucera, Tyler Ruzich, and Joseph Tutera, Jr.