So excited to see such great turn out at the @MomsDemand candidate forum tonight in Tucson. All the D candidates in CD2, and candidates from both Parties in LD2, 3, 9 and 10. pic.twitter.com/oGDjNceard— Representative Daniel Hernandez Jr (@djblp) July 10, 2018
Bobby Wilson, one of the two Republican candidates running for the Arizona Legislature, was present during a gathering last week to discuss gun control proposals. But when he opened his mouth, he was met with nothing but boos.
Wilson started his speech by saying that “The only way to stop a crazy madman killing innocent people, is you better have a good guy there with a gun,” and that he could prove it because he was once the “good guy with a gun.”
In the event organized by Moms Demand Action, Wilson told a story about a 1963 incident involving him, his mother, and his sister.
According to his account of the incident, his mother, Lavonne Wilson, woke him up one night “hell-bent on killing” him in his sleep.
“At three o'clock in the morning, I woke up to find a rifle in my face — a semiautomatic rifle at that — and the bullets started to fly, and I started diving for cover," he said.
After dodging six bullets, he added, he reached for the gun under his bed and shot his mother.
"You can pass all the laws you want to in this world, but when you have somebody that wants to harm somebody — they're going to do it if you don't stop it," he told the audience.
Republican Bobby Wilson tells the audience that there is no need for more gun control legislation, but sometimes circumstances require a “good guy with a gun.” pic.twitter.com/u92Bf86xIg— Joe Ferguson (@joeferguson) July 10, 2018
Wilson, who is repeatedly booed by the audience for various reasons (including saying everyone is good Christians) describes how he was nearly killed in his bed by a man who broke into his home, wanted to kill him. Wilson was able to shoot with a loaded gun he kept under his bed. pic.twitter.com/b0djHCXYLb— Joe Ferguson (@joeferguson) July 10, 2018
Correction: It wasn’t a man holding the gun, it was Wilson’s mother. He killed her that night in self-defense. (The audio keeps cutting out, I apologize. I swear I heard him say “man.”)— Joe Ferguson (@joeferguson) July 10, 2018
According to Wilson’s memoir, his mother suffered from depression and he called her a “fugitive hiding in the backwoods of S.E. Oklahoma.” On that fateful night, his sister, Judy Wilson, entered the room when she heard noises. Wilson assumed this action caused his mother to believe she saw a shadow and swung the gun in Judy's direction, hitting her in the back of the head.
He added that some of the bullets his mother shot hit gasoline jars the family kept in his room, the coolest in the house, which had no air-conditioning. Once he ran out of the room to turn one of the light switches on to make an emergency phone call, a spark ignited the fumes from the spilled gasoline, leading to an explosion. According to his accounts, he was blasted through the living room window, landing against a barbed-wire fence where he lost consciousness.
Later, he told officials, he had amnesia, but this claim only came after he confessed to the charges of murder. His charges were eventually dismissed by an Oklahoma judge.
Despite his claim of self-defense that night, Arizona Central reported that news outlets at the time said that the bodies of his mother and sister were found lying next to each other on the bed and that if it wasn’t for the insistence of the sheriff at the time, a more thorough investigation wouldn’t have been completed and they wouldn’t have learned that the two had died before the fire.
Years after claiming to have amnesia, Wilson said he was able to remember what happened to him. That’s how the story present in his memoir came about.
In an interview after his speech, Wilson doubled down on the idea that guns can be used for defense. He added that when he was a young man, everybody owned guns, especially teens.
"When I was in high school, all of the high-school boys had rifles and shotguns in their cars every day when they came to school, and nobody shot anybody at school, and nobody even thought about it," he told reporters.
State Rep. Daniel Hernandez, a Democrat from Arizona, was sitting next to Wilson during the meeting. When talking about the Republican’s speech, Hernandez had one word to describe the whole thing: “bizarre.”
Hernandez is also running to represent Legislative District 2 at the Capitol, and he served as an intern for former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, the year Jared Lee Loughner shot her in the head.
According to the legislator, the moment Wilson began to talk, he was shocked.
"I thought I had misheard him," he said. “We were just like 'Wait, what did he just say?!'"
"Even though I was sitting right next to him, it just took me aback that at this forum put on by Moms Demand Action, when we were talking about common-sense gun-violence prevention, he was talking about how he had to kill his mother in what I take is self-defense," Hernandez added.
After being credited with helping to save Giffords’ life, Hernandez became an outspoken gun control advocate.
"The idea that we can't actually do anything as a policymaker is just something that baffles me to this day," Hernandez explained.
And it’s that sentiment that continues to push him to remain part of the state legislature, so that he can join others who want to restrict gun ownership in the state of Arizona.
With District 2 being mainly Democratic, it’s unlikely that Wilson will gain any traction with local voters. As the "blue wave" takes over the country, and students continue to push for gun control, it's difficult to see Wilson's position becoming more popular in the coming years.
So, perhaps, this odd incident will continue to be labeled as nothing but a “bizarre” meeting, as Hernandez put it.