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Iowa's Joni Ernst: A gun will 'defend' me if government doesn't

The NRA-endorsed Republican candidate previously said her gun will "defend her" if her government doesn't.
Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican Senate candidate, campaigns at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 8, 2014.
Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican Senate candidate, campaigns at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 8, 2014.

While speaking at a previously-held rally for the National Rifle Association (NRA), Joni Ernst, who is now the Iowa Republican Senate nominee, said her gun will defend her if the government decides her Second Amendment rights aren't important.

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"I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it's from an intruder, or whether it's from a government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important," Ernst said in 2012, adding that she owns "a beautiful little" Smith & Wesson 9 millimeter. Her remarks came just weeks after the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, where gunman James Holmes allegedly killed 12 people and injured dozens more on July 20, 2012.

The NRA began endorsing Ernst ahead of the primary election in May when she was elected the Republican nominee. She has been a lifetime member of the leading firearms organization, and received an "A" rating for her efforts in protecting the rights of gun owners. The highest rating is reserved for a solidly pro-gun legislator who supports NRA positions on key votes.

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Ernst's comments have reemerged in the weeks ahead of the midterms, as the race between her and Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley continues to be one of the most competitive elections of the current cycle. The Huffington Post resurfaced her statement in a story published on Wednesday night.

Her campaign didn't immediately respond to msnbc's requests for comment, nor to The Huffington Post, according to the article.

The congressional hopeful launched herself into the public eye earlier this year with campaign advertisements that depict her taking literal aim with a gun at President Barack Obama's "wasteful spending" and discussing her experience with castrating hogs. She previously served as a soldier in Iraq and Kuwait, and also as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard.

Ernst, who is currently a state senator, made headlines again when she called the school shooting at the University of California Santa Barbara in May both an “absolute tragedy” and an "accident" during a televised debate ahead of the GOP primary. She said the rampage, in which a gunman fatally shot six individuals and himself, should not be "infringing" upon people's Second Amendment rights.

The tragedy was one more incident among the growing list of shootings in the country, from Newtown, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., to Aurora and Tucson, Arizona.

Ernst was also in the news this week for not reporting to the Senate ethics committee that she owns a rental property that provides income for her. Candidates and senators must document their assets that generate compensation, but she neglected to reveal the Iowa lot in the two separate financial disclosure reports that she filed since she joined the Senate race last July.

Deemed “Mama Grizzly” by supporter and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Ernst will face off against Braley on Nov. 4 for the seat held for 30 years by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.