An NC sheriff candidate's joke led thousands to say he's willing to kill to take guns

An NC sheriff candidate's joke led thousands to say he's willing to kill to take guns
Daryl Fisher is one of eight candidates running for Buncombe County Sheriff. (Credit: Photo provided to the News and Observer courtesy of Fisher's Facebook campaign page.)

BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. (Camila Molina | The News and Observer) - A candidate for Buncombe County sheriff ran into an online backlash from social media users convinced he was willing to kill his constituents to take away their guns.

That candidate insists it's not true.

R. Daryl Fisher is one of eight candidates running for sheriff of Buncombe County in western North Carolina. He's one of five Democrats seeking to win the party's nomination in a primary election on May 8.

The belief that he would kill for the sake of gun regulation arose from a joke he made during a meeting with voters in Asheville on March 7. Video was being recorded as Fisher answered questions about gun permits and offered suggestions for gun legislation.

Of the 5-minute-30-second video Fisher's campaign uploaded to YouTube on his campaign's channel, a conservative media outlet edited about 32 seconds that included his gun legislation proposals and this quote:

"... (Y)ou've heard people say, 'You'll have to pry my gun from my cold, bare hands,'" Fisher says to the crowd in the video, alluding to a quote from the late actor Charlton Heston.

He then shrugs his shoulders and says, "OK."

The Twitter page for The Red Elephants, a conservative news outlet, posted that 30-second edited version of Fisher's original video with text saying, "Suggests killing people to take their guns... Daryl Fisher candidate for sheriff in Buncombe County…"

The headline in one conservative news outlet, the Gateway Pundit: "It Begins. Democrat Candidate for Sheriff Suggests Killing People to Take Their Guns."

About the video

The video was filmed at a meeting with Moms Demand Action at a library in Asheville on March 7, according to the description on Fisher's campaign YouTube channel.

In the full video, Fisher can be heard saying he would support a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines for firearms or any mechanism that allows a firearm to fire in rapid succession.

"Any weapon that's designed for use by the military, I think we should ban," Fisher says in the video.

The crowd approves of his comment with applause.

He also says a person with a concealed carry permit should only carry the gun with which he or she trained and that the permits should be renewed every year in Buncombe County instead of every five years.

He follows with an answer to a question that can't be heard on the video, about people who already own weapons.

"Don't believe the scare tactics, because you've heard people say, ''You'll have to pry my gun from my cold, bare hands,' Fisher says.

He shrugs his shoulders, says, "OK" and then: "Whenever you pass away, we'll come get it."

The crowd laughs at his comment. He holds up his left hand, as if to call attention to what he was about to say, and shakes his head.

"Joking just a little bit there," he says.

"Now, the government cannot take a firearm that was legally purchased. Based on the law today, if somebody purchased a firearm legally — if we were able to pass a law tomorrow banning that firearm, or banning the high-capacity magazine or banning the mechanisms, there is case law that states we cannot enforce what happened yesterday with a law passed today. That's called an ex post facto law."

Once the video showed up on conservative websites, Twitter users found his campaign account and posted criticism — with some daring him to try to take their weapons.

In a statement he posted on his official campaign page, Fisher apologized for the joke. "I admit the joke was a mistake and I should not have joked," he said.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Fisher went on to say: "Regretfully, I quoted a famous line from a movie star/NRA spokesman as a joke and the audience laughed. What I said next, and my actual point, was that the government cannot take any guns that were purchased legally and that responsible gun owners have nothing to worry about."

"Unfortunately, a one-sentence clip from that meeting has been taken out of context and circulated on social media with a false interpretation of what I actually said. Anyone who watches the video in its entirety can see the truth and understand that my response was reasonable. While I regret having made a joke that could be misinterpreted, I stand by my actual response."