Comedian and actor Sacha Baron Cohen told a bunch of Republicans about a fake program that would give “gunimals” — cute, fluffy stuffed animals and toys strapped to guns — to toddlers.
And they loved the idea.
(Examples include: the Puppy Pistol, Dino-Gun, Rocket Ship RPG, Gunny Rabbit, and a special one “for the girls,” an Uzicorn.)
In his new comedy series, “Who is America?”, Cohen, known for his Borat and Ali G characters, adds another persona to his list: anti-terror expert Erran Morad. Under that guise, Cohen created a fake “Kingerguardians” program that would arm children so they could better protect themselves and their classmates against school shooters. Cohen even enlisted the help of a known gun rights advocate, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League Philip Van Cleave, to discuss the program (and sing a nursery rhyme about how to shoot).
“Aim at the head, shoulders, not the toes, not the toes,” Cleave sang.
Cohen, however, makes clear the program won’t include anyone younger than 3. "They don't call them the terrible twos for nothing,” he said.
Once they had the details nailed down, Cohen met with several GOP lawmakers to explain the program and ask them if they’d support it. Several unabashedly did. Former Illinois congressman and conservative talk radio host Joe Walsh even read a little endorsement.
“The intensive three-week Kinderguardian course introduces specially selected children from 12 to 4 years old to pistols, rifles, semi-automatics, and a rudimentary knowledge of mortars,” Walsh said. “In less than a month, less than a month, a first-grader can become a first grenader.”
“Happy shooting, kids,” Walsh adds to the last line.
Later, Walsh told CNN he was fooled into commenting on the program — which is exactly the point of Cohen’s show.
“After they conducted an interview, they had me read off of a teleprompter talking about some of the innovative products that Israel invented,” Walsh told the news network. “Then they had me read about this 4-year-old child in Israel who, when a terrorist entered his classroom, somehow he grabbed the terrorist’s gun and held the terrorist at bay. And that was an example of how Israel trains and arms preschool kids on how to use firearms, and boy, shouldn’t we do that in America?”
Walsh also told CNN that as he read the statement, he thought, “Well, this is kind of crazy, but it is Israel and Israel is strong on defense.” Then, “we found out this whole thing was made up.”
But Walsh wasn’t the only former or current member of Congress who was duped into believing the U.S. should arm toddlers.
Republican Reps. Dana Rohrabacher of California and Joe Wilson of South Carolina, along with former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, all enthusiastically backed the fake idea.
“It’s something we should think about in America,” Lott, a former senator from Missouri, told Cohen. “About putting guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens, good guys, whether they be teachers, or whether they actually be talented children or highly trained preschoolers.”
“Maybe having many young people trained and understand how to defend themselves in school might actually make us safer,” Rohrabacher also told Cohen.
“A 3-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a Hello Kitty pencil case at it,” Wilson told Cohen. “The Founding Fathers did not put an age limit on the second amendment.”
Not all lawmakers fell for Cohen’s stunt, though. Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida wasn’t having it — although he wouldn’t outright say he didn’t support toddlers with guns.
“You want me to say on television that I support 3- and 4-year-olds with firearms?” Gaetz asked Cohen. “Is that what you’re asking me to do?”
“Uhhh, yes,” Cohen said.
“Typically members of Congress don’t just hear a story about a program and then indicate whether they support it or not,” Gaetz said.
Cover image: Screenshot via "Who is America?" (Showtime)