I still vividly remember watching Mark Robinson speak to the Raleigh City Council on gun rights. The now Lt. Governor-elect was then just a private citizen, a virtual nobody, but he spoke with such passion that it was impossible not to listen.
Make no mistake, it was clear that Robinson spoke from the heart. He said things that gun rights advocates had been saying for decades, but he said them his way, made them his, and that raised his profile.
Many people get a brush with stardom and then never do anything with it. I know one guy who became something of a meme after an appearance on the show Scared Straight. A smart remark, but it went somewhat viral. He never found a way to capitalize on that, but Robinson did. He embraced politics and became North Carolina’s first black Lt. Governor.
Over at The Federalist, they argue that Robinson is the culture warrior the GOP needs.
It was a long time coming. Robinson, who is 52, made a stunning political debut in 2018 at a city council meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina where the members were considering prohibiting a gun show at city-controlled facilities. Robinson claims to have made his oration off-the-cuff. The impromptu speech went viral and ended up on Fox News. It’s now been viewed more than 1 million times.
Robinson comes from a poor background. He is the second youngest of ten children who were frequently separated in his early years. He worked two factory jobs (the loss of both of which he blames on the North American Free Trade Agreement stifling American industry) and was a restaurant manager. He’s also a former Army Reservist.
North Carolina lieutenant governors of the past 100 years have been decidedly pale in complexion. Robinson thinks it is important that the first black lieutenant governor be a Republican.
“It sets the standard for this party,” said Robinson. “Being a student of history, it’s extremely exciting for me to make history. But I think when you get right down to the political side of it, to be able to make this statement for the party of freedom and equality—which is what I call the Republican Party—it lets people know that this party doesn’t have just one face. Also, it gets people who normally would not pay any attention to this party to take a look at us. And we hope to do some things that when they do take a look at us, they’ll say ‘Hey, I agree with that.’”
Robinson’s deeply socially conservative positions animate his political direction. Beyond Robinson’s victory in North Carolina, his personal story is a script seemingly written with a new Republican Party realignment in mind.
Honestly, I don’t know one way or the other about that. I’m not going to get into the deeper culture wars.
What I will say, though, is that Robinson is vital in restructuring the narrative about gun rights.
For years, anti-gunners have ignored black gun owners and instead pushed a narrative that gun rights are inherently racist. They ignore the fact that gun control laws originated as a way to disarm black men and women and instead pretend that we who support the Second Amendment are somehow interested in seeing people like Robinson in chains or something.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Men and women like Robinson, Maj Toure, and Colion Noir are extremely important, not because they can serve as some kind of token, but because all three are true believers in the Second Amendment and inspire loyalty not because of the melanin content of their skin but because they speak from the heart and that is what resonates with gun rights advocates.
Mark Robinson may be the culture warrior the GOP needs, but he’s definitely the gun rights warrior we all need.