Pro-gun Republican who had shouting match with Jamaal Bowman gloats over Democrat’s defeat

Pro-gun Republican congressman Thomas Massie has given a wry reaction after Democrat Jamaal Bowman was defeated in a New York primary by a rival from his own party.

Bowman lost a House primary to Westchester County Executive George Latimer on Tuesday, who won more than 60 per cent of the vote.

It came after Bowman was widely criticized by other Democrats for his stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict, accusing Israel of “apartheid” and “genocide” and supporting a ceasefire in the conflict that has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians.

His primary challenger, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, received an unprecedented series of donations from pro-Israel groups in the most expensive House primary in history, resulting in Bowman’s defeat.

Following the result, Bowman, who is a member of the self-styled “Squad” of progressive Democrats, received backlash, with one Washington Post columnist describing him as a “Democratic Trump,” while a New York Times columnist said he “deserved to lose.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., talks at a campaign stop in White Plains, N.Y., on June 11, 2024 (AP)
Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., talks at a campaign stop in White Plains, N.Y., on June 11, 2024 (AP)

Bowman was also mocked by Rep Massie, with whom he got into a shouting match off the House floor last year over potential gun control legislation in the wake of the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, in which six people were killed.

On Tuesday night, following Bowman’s defeat, Massie joked on X/Twitter: “I’m going to miss our informal chitchats in the hallways,” accompanied by a video of the incident.

“They’re cowards. They’re all cowards! They won’t do anything to save the lives of our children,” Bowman, a former school principal, can be heard yelling in the video.

Kentucky representative Massie then tries to interrupt, claiming that there have been no school shootings in schools where teachers are allowed to carry weapons, prompting a shouting match between the two men.

“You know, there’s never been a school shooting in a school that allows teachers to carry [guns],” Massie said.

“Carry guns?“ Bowman responded. “More guns lead to more death! Look at the data. You’re not looking at the data. You’re carrying water for the gun lobby. States that have open carry laws have more deaths... are you listening to what I’m saying?”

Massie largely ignored his points, repeatedly asking if he would co-sponsor a bill to repeal the federal ban on carrying guns in schools, before telling him: “Calm down.”

“Calm down? Children are dying!” exclaimed Bowman. “Have you ever worked in a school? Have you every worked in a school?“

Thomas Massie pictured with his family posing with a selection of firearms (Thomas Massie/Twitter)
Thomas Massie pictured with his family posing with a selection of firearms (Thomas Massie/Twitter)

Three children and three staff members were killed when a former student opened fire at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee on 27 March. It was the 17th school shooting in the US in 2024.

Tennessee is one of 25 US states that allows people to carry concealed guns without a permit. Democrats and gun safety activists have argued passing stricter laws would reduce the violence, whereas Republicans and gun rights advocates argue that arming teachers would act as a deterrent.

Massie has been a strong advocate of gun rights. In 2021, just days after another massacre, he came under fire for posting a Christmas photo of his family posing with a selection of firearms, including semi-automatic rifles, submachine guns, and an M60 machine gun – a military weapon typically fired with the aid of a bipod, tripod, or vehicle mount.

The Republican congressman has supported arming teachers in schools, which he claims is equivalent to having armed guards in Congress.

“He doesn’t believe that kids should have somebody to protect them,” Massie said of Bowman following their confrontation.

Meanwhile, Bowman hit back, saying: “I worked in a school for twenty years. I was a teacher, I was a school counselor, I was a middle school principal, I was in cafeterias, protecting kids every day of my career.”

Afterwards, Bowman tweeted: “Republicans won’t do S*** when it comes to gun violence, but try to tell me to calm down. NO. We can’t calm down. People are dying every day while we wait.”

Bowman has been criticised while on the campaign trail for using profanities and for his brash speaking style.