This article was originally posted on Guns.com
Local media is reporting that a Democrat vying for a seat in Congress has caught the eye of federal regulators over a rifle whose barrel she publicly shortened in a protest.
Police tell area media they now have the AR-15 that Karen Mallard, a candidate for Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, on Wednesday seemingly shortened the barrel on while on Facebook Live. After the event, Mallard turned the gun over to the Virginia Beach Police Department, a spokesman of which said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is “looking into the situation.”
Mallard announced she was destroying her husband’s AR-15 in an act of solidarity with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students in Parkland, Florida, protesting for gun control in the wake of a school shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people. Using a portable saw, she removed the front several inches of the rifle’s barrel and handguard, prefaced and followed with a diatribe on gun violence.
The video, which was first pulled by “a staffer” in Mallard’s campaign and then reposted, has been viewed over 1.4 million times, and drew significant backlash in the form of thousands of comments — most pointing out that the potential lawmaker may have violated federal law regulating the production and possession of short barreled rifles under the National Firearms Act, a felony. Threads referencing the incident on popular gun forums like AR-15.com and others soon crossed over to discussion boards such as Reddit and 4Chan, then became trending. Twitter lit up.
Mallard contends she did nothing wrong. Her campaign website cautioned “(A) few people raised concerns that the AR-15 wasn’t rendered operational and that Karen had merely made it a short-barrel rifle. David later took the disassembled weapon to the local police station to have it properly disposed of.”
In speaking with WTKR, she implied the stunt may have been a bait-and-switch of sorts. “I knew exactly what I was doing. The gun was inoperable before I cut it. And we took it completely apart. And we didn’t put all that on video because I wanted to get the message to the students that I was standing with them,” Mallard said.