2020 Election

Slip of the Gun

Upstate New York Dem struggles to answer about past support for assault-weapons ban

The Democratic nominee for New York's 21st Congressional District stumbled over a question about gun bans during a Wednesday-night debate.

Tedra Cobb, who is again facing off against Rep. Elise Stefanik (R.), appeared to contradict herself while discussing whether she supports banning guns like the popular AR-15. After attacking Stefanik's opposition to several gun-control bills, Cobb initially said she did not support banning "assault rifle[s]" before saying she wants some sort of ban.

"I believe that we should respect responsible gun owners' rights but I also believe that we should pass meaningful legislation banning … uh," Cobb said before pausing. The slip-up could put her campaign in hot water with gun owners—a group she alienated in her unsuccessful 2018 run after admitting to volunteers she was concealing her support for a ban from the public. Her fumble comes with less than two weeks until the election.

Stefanik interjected to say Cobb's comments showed that the Democrat supports banning AR-15s and other firearms. "She said it herself, banning assault weapons," Stefanik said.

Cobb's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Cobb pushed back against Stefanik in the debate, claiming that she does not support a gun ban. She insisted that she only backs a ban on "gun-show loopholes." She called the Republican incumbent "childish" and accused Stefanik of lying about her.

"Just listen to what my opponent said," Stefanik responded. "She said banning when it comes to assault weapons, when it comes to guns. She knew as soon as the word ‘banning' came out of her mouth it was going to be a problem."

The National Rifle Association has endorsed Stefanik for reelection after giving her an A+ rating. Cobb has received an F rating from the gun-rights group.