Democrat's praise of strict gun law roils Kansas Senate race

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., the Republican nominee for an open U.S. Senate seat in Kansas, speaks during a stop in a GOP bus tour of the state, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Topeka, Kan. Asked about President Donald Trump's tweet after being treated for coronavirus that people should not fear COVID-19, Marshall told reporters, "Of course, I think everyone should respect the virus." (AP Photo/John Hanna)
U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., the Republican nominee for an open U.S. Senate seat in Kansas, speaks during a stop in a GOP bus tour of the state, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Topeka, Kan. Asked about President Donald Trump's tweet after being treated for coronavirus that people should not fear COVID-19, Marshall told reporters, "Of course, I think everyone should respect the virus." (AP Photo/John Hanna) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TOPEKA, Kan. – Republicans on Sunday circulated a video of the Democrats' candidate for an open U.S. Senate seat in Kansas praising strict Australian gun laws that she said “took them all away” to undercut her campaign as a political moderate in what's been an unexpectedly tough red-state race for the GOP.

Democrat Barbara Bollier's spokeswoman accused Republican Roger Marshall's campaign of being “duplicitous" in highlighting the video from an Oct. 3 “lawn chair chat” at a Kansas City-area park. Bollier's campaign released longer audio from the same event that included moments in which Bollier said she supports the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protecting gun rights and recalled hunting with her father.

The race appears to be close between Marshall, a two-term congressman for western and central Kansas, and Bollier, a Kansas City-area state senator who was a lifelong moderate Republican before switching parties late in 2018. As the GOP fights to keep its 53-47 majority in the Senate, Marshall and his supporters have attacked Bollier on issues that favor Republicans in much of the state, including gun rights.

Both a 2 1/2-minute video clip provided to The Associated Press by the Marshall campaign and longer audio from Bollier's show that she noted that an adult daughter lives in Australia and praised a law there that in the 1990s forced owners of 700,000 guns to sell them to the government as “this amazing thing."

“They have no guns. They don't allow them. They just took them all away,” Bollier told her audience. “And you know what? It's pretty darn safe.”

Bollier also noted that Australia imposes licensing and training requirements for gun owners. Kansas law allows adults to carry weapons openly, and it allows them to carry concealed firearms without a permit — a policy Bollier opposed as a legislator when it was enacted in 2015.

“Who thinks you can just go out and have a gun? Seriously,” Bollier said. “You can't drive a car without training. You can't basically do anything without some kind of training. This is a lethal weapon.”

As the video clip began circulating, Bollier tweeted Sunday afternoon: “I do not support gun confiscation. I never have. I never will.”