Kemp’s Commercial Could be Criminal

As a prosecutor, I prosecuted dozens of individuals, who pulled out a weapon and pointed it at someone with the intent to cause fear in that person.  Some of those people are likely still in jail.   As a defense attorney, I have defended individuals at trial who were accused of aggravated assault when they pulled out a gun in response to a threat.  In Georgia, pointing a firearm at someone is a serious crime. Brian Kemp simulated a crime on television in an effort to convince people to vote for him.

The Georgia General Assembly has created three separate crimes that potentially cover the actions that Republican Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp displayed in his most recent commercial.  Check out the entire cringe-worthy commercial here:

As a parent, I have heard the expression “you better get your shotgun ready.”  We all know that is a euphemism used to refer to someone’s daughter that will soon be a heart-breaker with the boys.  With that said Mr. Kemp – that is an expression not a directive. In the same way you would not display your daughters in a commercial literally taking human hearts and breaking them, it is not appropriate to get your shotgun to intimidate someone on television.

Lets review this commercial through a prosecutors lens.

The commercial opens with Kemp displaying all the firepower he owns.  Five handguns to his right, two AR-15 type guns against the wall, a rifle behind him, three more rifles laid out on the table and a rifle in his hands directly pointed to his left.  Also, to his left, a young man who looks school aged that we quickly learned is named “Jake.”  “Jake is a young man interested in dating one of my daughters,” says Kemp.

After the mass shooting in Nevada and Stoneman Douglas high school – let me be the first to say Mr. Kemp – TOO SOON.  The idea of putting a high school aged child in a frame with the same rifle used to kill children just one state away seems extremely miscalculated and insensitive.  But Kemp didn’t end there. 

Kemp had Jake list out his platform for Governor in very simplistic terms.  However, frankly, I don’t know what those points were.  Why? Because the prosecutor in me couldn’t help but to focus on Jake’s eyes darting towards the gun pointed at him.  After reciting each platform point, Jake looked at the firearm with fear in his eyes.  Kemp was stroking the gun incessantly while using what many would consider as threatening gestures or language.

Jake did not look happy or comfortable.   As a prosecutor it looked like Jake was “in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving violent injury.”  It did not help that Kemp scowled the entire commercial.

Then, Kemp cocks the gun and points it squarely in the direction of Jake, while Jake describes how having a “healthy respect for the 2nd Amendment” is a requirement to date Kemp’s daughters.  Secretary Kemp, does this “respect for the 2nd Amendment” include not committing a crime with a gun?  If so, then if this were real you would have failed sir.

Georgia being an open carry state does not mean you can assault people, commit simple assault, threaten a juvenile and call it good fun.  Anyone else doing the exact same thing off of camera would be in jail.  Setting a great example for Georgians there Kemp.  Thank goodness Kemp’s daughters are not dating black boys …

Let me put on my defense attorney hat.  I would be defending Jake in this instance.  Jake would have been more than justified in grabbing one of those nearby firearms.  Particularly once the gun was cocked and pointed in his direction, no jury could deny that Jake was acting in self defense.


Attorney: “Jake why did you grab the gun off the table and point it at Secretary Kemp?”

Jake: “Because, I was afraid he was going to shoot me.”

Attorney: “Jake he is running for the Governor of Georgia.  Why would you be in fear of serious bodily injury?”

Jake: “Because he had the darn gun pointed in my face and then he cocked it.  He was scowling at me and I did not feel free to leave.”


I would also defend Jake’s father, if he showed up at Kemp’s door with a gun of his own.  See how Kemp likes it when someone his own size cocks a gun in his face.   Where I am from in Georgia we have a saying, “don’t pull it unless you intend to use it.”

I understand this was a staged commercial and Jake was not in actual fear of serious bodily injury.  However, can we ignore the fact there are more than 500 accidental gun deaths in American annually?  Did we forget that former Vice President Dick Cheney shot a man in the face as a display of one of those accidental shootings?  Is this what we want from a Governor?  Is there not another way to show support for the 2nd Amendment without simulating a crime on television?   What happened to responsible gun ownership?

Here are some suggestions for candidates who want to show respect for the 2nd Amendment as a way to attract voters.  Show us how you keep those guns away from the mentally ill.  Display your impressive gun case with the LOCK on it to avoid another mass killing at a high school.  Display how you checked to be sure Jake is mentally stable before you showed him where he can get a stash of weapons of mass destruction.

What Kemp displayed is not respect sir, that is called fear.  Intimidating your way into office is not a tried and true campaign style.  Show voters that you are willing to LISTEN to the youth rather than scaring them into submission.

I own guns and I strongly agree with our right as American’s to protect ourselves.  Looking at that commercial, Kemp is the kind of guy I am trying to protect myself from.  People who use firearms to intimidate others because they are too weak to handle a sixteen year-old, bird chested, acne faced teen – man to man – is not Governor material.

I expect more from a Secretary of State and candidate for Governor.  At the lowest level, I expect all candidates for Governor to understand the laws of simple assault, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony before he runs for office.


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