NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Republican attorney general candidate Gunner DeLay on Tuesday questioned his Democratic opponent’s support of the Second Amendment and the rights of gun owners.
State Rep. Dustin McDaniel “needs to come clean” on the role he played in a lawsuit filed against gun manufacturer Remington Arms and others in the wake of the 1998 Jonesboro school shootings, DeLay said.
The Republican made his comments during a news conference at a North Little Rock gun shop before embarking on a six-day, 40-city campaign swing across the state. All the stops, he said, will be at gun shops, pawnshops where weapons are sold, or sporting good stores.
Delay was to travel to Hot Springs, Mount Ida, Glenwood, De Queen and Mena on Tuesday afternoon. He planned to make several campaign stops in Northwest Arkansas today, including in Springdale.
DeLay, a former state senator who now practices law in Fort Smith, faces McDaniel, a Democrat from Jonesboro who is completing his first term in the state Legislature, in the Nov. 7 general election.
“For Mr. DeLay to carry on like this … frankly Gunner just can’t shoot straight,” McDaniel said Tuesday. “I am pro-Second Amendment, and my idea of gun control is using both hands to aim.”
“I have an A rating from the National Rifle Association, I am a member of the NRA and a gun owner,” McDaniel said. “If he is going to continue to try and distort my record, that’s the act of desperation.”
McDaniel said the lawsuit DeLay referred to was filed by the firm his father owned while he was still in law school.
McDaniel said that after finishing school, he helped do some research but was not actively involved in the case. He asked in 2000 to be removed from the case, which was later dismissed, he said.
At his news conference, DeLay presented reporters with copies of court documents that were signed by Dustin McDaniel, as well as a letter that McDaniel received from the presiding circuit judge on the case. He noted that his opponent’s name was at the top of the list of attorneys, indicating he was lead attorney.
DeLay also provided reporters with several newspaper quotes indicating McDaniel was lead attorney in the case.
Among the allegations in the lawsuit was that the person who originally owned the weapons used in the shooting spree at Westside Middle School that left a teacher and four students dead should be held liable even though the weapons were stolen from his basement.
“That’s far out of the mainstream of Arkansas values,” DeLay said.
Another component of the lawsuit alleged Remington Arms should be held liable because it made a gun used in the shooting, and because when it sold the gun to the owner the weapon did not have a trigger lock.
“What Mr. McDaniel is saying is that it’s foreseeable that every weapon made is eventually going to be used in a crime or to negligently injure somebody,” DeLay said. “To me that’s outrageous.”
McDaniel said he didn’t think it would be appropriate for him to speak specifically about the case because he is still a member of the law firm, but he said he supported the law signed last year by President Bush that protected gun manufacturers from liability for the misuse of weapons they made.
“I am a hunter and a gun owner, and I strongly support the rights of Arkansans to keep and bear arms,” McDaniel said.
The Democrat also said he supports the “castle” doctrine, a law passed in Florida and several other states, which legally protects citizens who use deadly force in self-defense.
DeLay said Tuesday he also supports the “castle” doctrine. He added he is a member of the NRA, has been endorsed by that organization and owns several shotguns and rifles.