GUNGATE: Gary Johnson Tosses Austin Petersen’s Gift in the Trash After Winning Nomination

Over the weekend the Libertarian Party came together and nominated Gary Johnson and William Weld for president and vice president.  After the business was settled, TLR founder Austin Petersen gave his concession speech in which he declared that he would like to unify the Libertarian Party behind Governor Johnson.  During that speech, Petersen gave to Johnson a replica flintlock pistol as a sign of his commitment.

In the below video, Austin explains the significance of the pistol and his plan to support Governor Johnson.



Shortly after the speech, however, the flintlock pistol was discarded in a garbage can.  While the details are not yet officially confirmed by either camp, reports from delegates and others who were in the Rosen Centre Hotel report that Johnson was seen throwing the pistol in a garbage can.  California delegate Resa Woodward, known as Resa Willis, was approached by a man who was in possession of the replica pistol.  She recounted her observations for the purpose of this reporting:

While volunteering at Austin’s hospitality suite early Sunday evening, I was approached by a gentleman carrying the Flintlock Austin gifted to Gary Johnson. The gentleman inquired into Austin’s whereabouts so the gun could be returned. He told me that he and his wife were witness to Gary tossing the gun in the trash, so they retrieved it from the receptacle and sought out Austin immediately. I took a photo of the gun and directed him to Austin’s security detail.

Woodward’s quick thinking led her to document and time stamp the event.


Pistol after Gary Johnson discarded it


As Resa Woodward and others began disclosing the details of Johnson discarding Petersen’s gift, rumors began to swirl, emotions began to rise, and details began to get lost. To clear the air, both Governor Johnson’s campaign and Petersen’s campaign were contacted for comment on the discarded flintlock pistol. Johnson’s campaign did not immediately respond to inquiry.

Petersen campaign spokesman Joe Trotter responded:

We have no comment regarding this incident. This is a time for all Libertarians to come together and support our nominee. We have a historic opportunity to make a real difference this election thanks to the nomination of two authoritarian progressives by the major parties, but we cannot do so unless we stand united. It is time to put to bed any infighting or conflicts and focus on taking the fight to the major parties all the way to the November elections.

It has since been confirmed that Petersen is back in possession of the flintlock pistol. Many Petersen supporters are taking the discarded pistol as an insult. Hastags including #MuhGun, #GunGate, and #WheresTheGunGary have been surfacing in pro-Petersen circles.

If Johnson’s campaign responds to inquiry or new material facts come to light, this reporting will be updated.

Update: Two sources close to Petersen’s campaign have verified that on May 30th 2016, a representative from Johnson’s campaign reached out to a group of Petersen volunteers to attempt to extend an offer of $500 in exchange for the discarded pistol. Johnson’s campaign has not offered an official comment on the matter.

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