VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (WAVY) - An expert in gun law says congressional candidate Karen Mallard’s destruction of her AR-15 rifle, which she recorded and posted on Facebook, was against the law.
Mallard is a Democrat running for the seat in Virginia’s sprawling second district, which extends from the Oceanfront onto the Peninsula and the Eastern Shore, currently held by Rep. Scott Taylor, a Republican.
Mallard is an elementary school teacher, and after she saw what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, she told her husband she no longer wanted their AR-15. Nikolas Cruz, 19, is charged with 17 counts of murder in the case. Police say he used an AR-15.
As you might expect, her assault on this rifle is drawing plenty of Facebook flak. One person said, “Congrats, you’re now a felon.” Legal experts say there is a real legal issue here.
“At a minimum she broke at least two federal laws, both of which are felonies, and at least one felony at the state level,” said Virginia Beach attorney Robert Herron III, an expert in firearms law.
Herron says the federal law dates back to the 1930s, and involves what’s known as short barreled rifles, or SBRs. He says Mallard broke the law twice: for making an SBR when she cut the barrel — and then for having one in her possession.
But Herron doubts she’ll get prosecuted because she’s running for Congress.
“If you took the same video, and removed the political speech, and removed her candidacy from the video, and it was someone who just said hey, I’m cutting down my rifle, and the ATF got wind of it, it’s a solid bet that the ATF is gonna be knocking on their door.”
Mallard is in a crowded June 12 democratic primary. David Nygaard is among the candidates. We asked him if he thought Mallard’s video was a publicity stunt.
“I can’t comment on that. I really don’t know if it’s a publicity stunt or what it is. I just know I’m going to run my campaign.”
Like Mallard, Nygaard is also calling for gun regulations, including a higher minimum age and more study by the CDC to look at why mass shootings happen in the first place.
Mallard says she’ll continue to support the survivors of the Parkland shootings.
“Keep standing up and speaking truth to power,” she said in the two-minute video. “(My husband and I) heard you and we’re gonna stand by you.”
Mallard says the video doesn’t tell the whole story about how the gun was destroyed. She says she continued to dismantle it after she cut off the barrel, so that it was “in about six pieces.”
Mallard says she then took those pieces to Virginia Beach Police. The department confirms that, but also says that ATF is investigating.