Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, who is running for Senate as a Democrat, says that owning a gun has become as much a part of Republican culture as ‘little cow nuts’ on lifted pickup trucks.
Fox News Digital exclusively obtained the video footage of Gallego making the claim during a Thursday campaign event at Chalice Christian Church in Gilbert, Arizona.
Gallego was responding to an audience question on addressing gun violence, in particular school shootings.
The Arizona Democrat said ‘school shooting-level casualties happen every day in the streets of America’ and that ‘we don’t focus on trying to stop everyday gun violence because a lot of politicians are afraid of the NRA and the gun lobby.’
‘And also, even beyond the gun lobby, there is now weapons — and I don’t really call them guns. As a Marine, I call them weapons,’ Gallego continued. ‘Weapons have now become more of a cultural thing.’
‘It’s like, if you’re a Republican, you have to have a bunch of guns, a jacked-up truck with some of those little cow nuts hanging in the back,’ he said.
‘That’s your cultural identity now,’ he added.
Gallego said it’s ‘harder to pass’ gun restrictions because guns have ‘become part of an identity of a portion of America.’
‘But when you really put this out there, most Americans are for universal background checks. Bad people should not have weapons,’ Gallego said. ‘If you have been convicted of domestic violence, you should not have weapons; if you’re under a protective order, you should not have weapons.’
Gallego told Fox News Digital that his time defending America as a Marine during the Iraq War made him believe ‘weapons of war’ do not belong in children’s classrooms.
‘Carrying and using my M16 to defend myself and my fellow Marines in Iraq taught me that weapons of war have no place in our kids’ classrooms,’ Gallego said. ‘The glorification of weapons that are used to massacre kids is sickening.’
‘As a gun owner, I’m all for responsible gun ownership, but it needs to be just that – responsible,’ he continued. ‘The vast majority of Arizonans agree we need commonsense gun reform to keep our communities safe, and I’m committed to getting it done.’
Gallego is running to try and take independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat in Congress’ upper chamber.
The toss-up race will be a complex one with Sinema’s status as a former Democrat. Gallego is the leading candidate for the Democrat nomination.
The two left candidates will have to compete to take as much of the blue vote as they can, which will likely split between them if both are on the ballot.
Additionally, the splitting of the Democrat vote may propel the eventual Republican nominee into the Senate.
Currently, the leading declared GOP candidate is Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb.
Gallego has also fielded some controversy since launching his Senate campaign.
Gallego twice voted to protect a Biden administration rule that allows pension fund managers to use so-called environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors when choosing investments for workers’ retirement plans, which some lawmakers have likened to ‘woke’ banking practices focusing on left-wing agendas.
Gallego’s move, in turn, also guarded a close friend and donor’s company in which he’s invested. In 2019, the Democrat reported attaining up to $50,000 in non-public stock in Aspiration Fund Adviser LLC, a financial technology company that partners with FDIC-member banks.
Gallego, however, had failed to divulge the purchase in his financial disclosure report until 2022 despite congressional members having to declare assets valued at more than $1,000.
Aspiration was founded in 2013 as a ‘digital bank for environmentally conscious consumers’ but has since concentrated on selling carbon credits, according to Forbes. It’s also one of only a few financial technology companies ‘fully embracing the booming movement around environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing,’ the publication wrote in 2021.
Aspiration disclosed that nearly 70% of its revenue comes from ESG services in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing from that same year.
The company was co-founded and is co-owned by Joe Sanberg, Gallego’s longtime friend and donor. The pair attended Harvard together, and Gallego took part in Sanberg’s 2021 wedding in Puerto Rico, social media posts show. Sanberg has provided more than $20,000 to Gallego’s campaigns and leadership PAC since 2014, according to a search of federal filings.
Fox News Digital’s Joe Schoffstall and Aubrie Spady contributed reporting.