A Democratic candidate running for Congress in Virginia is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) after taking part in a political stunt in which an AR-15 was destroyed.
Karen Mallard, a teacher and Democratic candidate for Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, posted a video of herself destroying her family's AR-15, as a "personal stand" against gun violence in the wake of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Mallard's video, which has received over one million views, drew both praise and rebuke from social media users.
Many were also quick to allege that the candidate violated Virginia law, namely, the Sawed-Off Shotgun and Sawed-Off Rifle Act, which prohibits individuals from owning a rifle that has been modified to an "overall length of less than 26 inches." Mallard's actions have launched an investigation into wrongdoing by the ATF, according to CBS's Virginia Beach affiliate, WTKR.
Mallord's video was temporarily taken down, but it was soon was reposted.
The candidate directly addressed her critics, who she labeled as "NRA trolls," claiming the AR-15 was destroyed according to regulation and turned over to the police. Mallard also questioned why her actions had stirred such controversy when there were children "being murdered" in schools.
"And yes for all the NRA trolls out there, I finished the job according to regulation and turned it over to the police," Mallard's Facebook page stated. "Why are you more outraged about me taking a gun out of circulation than about our children being murdered in our schools?"
A spokesman for the Virginia Beach Police confirmed Thursday that the rifle was in their possession, awaiting further action by the ATF.
Mallard has pushed back on criticism of her actions, saying she refused to be daunted in her push for gun control.
"It is all to intimidate me and I will not be intimated. And I'm going to fight gun reform, for our children and for our community," said Mallard.
Mallard announced her candidacy in August of 2017, becoming the fourth Democrat to vie for the opportunity to take on first-term Republican Rep. Scott Taylor (Va.). Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, is running for reelection in the southeastern Virginia congressional district that leans Republican on paper but has swung Democratic in recent elections.
Mallard's full Facebook video can be viewed below.