Blake Masters, a Republican candidate for the Senate in Arizona who was recently endorsed by former President Donald Trump, said on a podcast this year that “Black people, frankly” are to blame for America’s gun violence problem.
“We do have a gun violence problem in this country, and it’s gang violence,” Masters said on “The Jeff Oravits Show” in April. “It’s gangs. It’s people in Chicago, St. Louis shooting each other. Very often, you know, Black people, frankly. And the Democrats don’t want to do anything about that.”
Masters also claimed Democrats “are weak on crime” and “don’t like the Second Amendment” because “it frankly blocks a lot of their plans for us.”
During the same podcast, when asked what he thought about President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman confirmed to the court, Masters said she was “a horrible pick” and that she was an “affirmative action candidate.”
Masters did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.
Masters has promoted Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. He has also repeatedly echoed the “great replacement theory” — a white supremacist conspiracy theory that there is a plot to diminish the influence of white people in the U.S. — by baselessly claiming that Democrats want to grant amnesty to thousands of immigrants in order to “make them voters.”
Last month, a white, 18-year-old gunman who is believed to have subscribed to the “great replacement theory” opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people and injuring three, almost all of them Black, authorities said. Authorities have described the incident as a racially motivated hate crime.
Less than two weeks later, a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers and injured more than a dozen others at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
A number of Republicans have singled out large cities when questioned about whether stricter gun laws would prevent mass shootings.
During a news conference about the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott pointed to Chicago as an example of why tough gun laws fail to prevent gun violence.
Abbott blamed the shooting on a mental health crisis.
“We need to realize that people who think that, ‘Well, maybe if we could just implement tougher gun laws, it’s going to solve it,’ Chicago and L.A. and New York disprove that thesis,” Abbott said at a May 25 news conference.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot both condemned his remarks.
“Shame on you, @GovAbbott,” Pritzker tweeted, linking to a report that a majority of guns used in Chicago crimes came from outside of Illinois. “Don’t feed into the false narrative about Chicago and Illinois — it’s an excuse that politicians like you hide behind to stop the federal legislation we need to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”
“You are lying about Chicago and what actually perpetuates gun violence. The majority of guns used in Chicago shootings come from states with lax gun laws,” Pritzker added. “Do better. You have 19 kids and two teachers who deserve our best.”
Janelle Griffith is a national reporter for NBC News focusing on issues of race and policing.