A Brief History of Politicians Blowing Things Up

Republican State Sen. Ron Gould is running for Congress in Arizona’s 4th congressional district. It’s a heavily Democratic district, so he’s probably not going to win. But Gould’s not going down quietly. He has released an ad (below) in which he blasts a hole through Obamacare with a pump-action shotgun. “It’s rather ridiculous that somehow now guns are off limits because we had a congresswoman shot in Arizona,” he told Fox 10 Phoenix.

Firing a gun in a political ad is hardly a new idea. And it’s not the exclusive domain of Republicans. Here’s a quick guide to how it’s done:

Shooter: Arizona congressional candidate Ron Gould (R).

Year: 2012.

Weapon: pump-action shotgun.

Target: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

Scale of Destruction: Mixed—Gould uses what looks to be a slimmed-down version of the law.


ShooterOklahoma congressional candidate Rob Wallace (D).

Year: 2012

Weapon: pump shotgun; scoped thirty-ought-six hunting rifle.

Target: The state of Texas.

Scale of destruction: Absolute.

ShooterWest Virginia Senate candidate Joe Manchin (D).

Year: 2010

Weapon: scoped single-shot bolt-action hunting rifle.

Target: “The cap-and-trade bill.”

Scale of Destruction: Does it really count if the bill was already dead? 

Candidate: Alabama Agriculture Commission candidate Dale Peterson (R).

Year: 2010.

Weapon: .30-caliber lever-action Winchester.

Target: A supporter of his opponent.

Scale of Destruction: None; Dale Peterson is, at heart, a man of peace.

Candidate: Colorado congressional candidate Bob McConnell (R).

Year: 2010.

Weapon: automatic pistol; heavily modified AR-15 assault carbine.

Target: Osama bin Laden.

Scale of destruction: Destroyed.

Candidate: Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer (D).

Year: 2008.

Weapon: over-and-under double-barreled shotgun.

Target: The federal Real ID law.

Scale of Distruction: Absolute.

Honorable mentions go to Wyoming state Sen. Gerald Gay (R)—who has taken down* the videos of him blowing up “socialism,” the Affordable Care Act, the US Capitol, and cap-and-trade with a semi-automatic AR-15 (among other tools)—and Arizona congressional candidate Pamela Gorma (R). Per YouTube, embedding of Gorma’s 2010 campaign ad has been “disabled by request.” Given that Gorma’s ad basically consists of her firing a machine gun for 45 seconds, we’re inclined to honor that request.

Update: Gay’s demolition of the Capitol is still viewable on Facebook.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.