Tampa Bay Mayor Bob Buckhorn, pictured here during a Special Operations Capabilities Demonstration in 2016, is walking back comments he made at a military conference last week. Buckhorn said that when firing blanks from a machine gun, he likes to point the gun at the media first, and watch ‘grown men cry like little girls ... I love it.’
Ryan DiPentima, Palm Beach Post
A Florida mayor’s joke about firing blanks from a machine gun at the media has landed him in hot water.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who joked about pointing the gun at reporters as part of a military exercise, said he has told that same joke before but it didn’t get much criticism until he told it again at a Special Operations Industry Conference last week, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“The first place I point that gun is at the media,” Buckhorn said to a room of more than 1,000 attendees, the Times reported. “I’ve never seen grown men cry like little girls, for when that gun goes off those media folks just hit the deck like no one’s business. It’s great payback. I love it.”
Buckhorn’s words went viral, leading to dozens of complaints made to City Hall. In a statement, his spokeswoman told the Times that Buckhorn, the son of a wire service reporter and brother of a CNN cameraman, respects the media and didn’t intend to offend anyone with his joke.
Buckhorn, who is part of the Democratic Party, dismissed complaints made by war correspondents at first, saying they were silly, but the story gained national attention, and the mayor’s spokeswoman said his joke was never meant to be taken seriously, the Times reported.
The two-term mayor will leave office in 2019 because of term limits.