N.C. Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse caused a stir on social media this week when he posted a picture on Facebook and Twitter in which he’s holding an AK-style semi-automatic rifle.
“Best Christmas present ever !!” Woodhouse wrote in the post.
The post has drawn hundreds of comments, some of which praised the GOP leader for exercising his Second Amendment right to own a gun. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! God bless you!” one person wrote.
But in a sign of the political divisions surrounding gun ownership, other comments were more critical. Several pointed out that the gun’s safety appeared to be turned off in the photo. “Get a clue before you injure or kill someone,” said one commenter.
Woodhouse defended the photo Wednesday and stressed that he’s using appropriate gun safety.
“I just said it was the best Christmas present ever,” he said, declining to say who gave the gift or for what purpose. “I did not say it was in fact mine. I am not saying either way what weapons I legally possess or own or not. That weapon was not loaded, and my finger is no place close to the trigger. That magazine is completely empty as is the chamber.”
But Woodhouse said the N.C. Republican Party has received threats this election year, and some involved promises to “visit someone at home.”
“There has been a lot of hyperbole recently by people directed at me and some of my staff based on our activities that have made personal safety and security more of a concern,” Woodhouse said. “I’m not saying that’s directly related to this (photo), but it has been on my mind.”
Woodhouse says he was surprised by the reaction to his post. “Have we gotten so hyper-partisan that a photo with a legal firearm is news for the state’s largest newspaper?” he told The News & Observer.