Ex-SAVATAGE Drummer's Gun Shop Hosts Campaign Event For Ultra-Conservative Republican Congressman MADISON CAWTHORN

May 14, 2022

On May 6, ultra-conservative North Carolina Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn held a campaign event at Cherokee Guns, the store owned by former SAVATAGE drummer Steve "Doc" Wacholz (pictured above).

Later that day, Cawthorn shared a few photos of the event on his Facebook page and wrote in an accompanying message: "Wonderful gathering of great patriots at Cherokee Guns. Love nothing more than getting to be with the people I have the honor of fighting for."

Back in 2019, Cherokee, which is located in Murphy, North Carolina, came under fire for its billboard mocking the minority female congresswomen known as "The Squad" — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.),Ilhan Oman (D-MN),Rashida Tlaib (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). The progressive quartet, elected in November of 2018 as part of a so-called "blue wave," were frequent critics of then-U.S. president Donald J. Trump.

On the billboard, which Wacholz said he rented for $250 from Allison Outdoor Advertising, Inc., pictures of the four freshmen representatives were displayed below a headline that read "The 4 Horsemen Cometh Are Idiots." Below was a tag line that read "signed, the Deplorables," a reference to a 2016 speech by then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in which she said supporters of Trump, her Republican opponent, belong in a "basket of deplorables" due to their "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic" views. Trump would go on to become America's 45th President despite losing the popular vote by nearly three million ballots.

At the time, Wacholz, now 59, told the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen Times newspaper that the billboard was an exercise of his freedom of speech. "I'm not inciting any violence or being racist," Wacholz said. "It's a statement. It's an opinion."

He added that the billboard's primary goal was to criticize a quartet of politicians he believes to be "socialists," adding that he "also feel[s] a couple of them, being Muslim, have ties to actual terrorist groups."

Wacholz left SAVATAGE in 1993, soon after the completion of the group's seventh full-length, "Edge Of Thorns". (Although he is pictured and credited on the following year's "Handful Of Rain", he did not actually perform on the album.) Since then, Wacholz — whose nickname "Doc" is an abbreviation of "Doctor Killdrums", a moniker he earned for his hard-hitting style — has recorded with the likes of CRIMSON GLORY, REVERENCE and JON OLIVA'S PAIN.

His primary focus for the past 10 years, however, has been Cherokee Guns, which he describes on the store's web site as a "humble lil' gun shop... built by our back pockets, the sweat of our brow and great customer service. No one helped us with ANY type of loans (especially FEDERAL government Obama loans)."

The "4 Horsemen" billboard wasn't Cherokee's first advertisement that had raised eyebrows. In 2017, the store leased a sign that was headlined with the words "Infidel Armament" in block letters above Arabic script and an automatic rifle. Two years prior, another Cherokee billboard read, "Give me your tired, your poor... Keep your Syrian refugees."

"People on Facebook were saying it was ignorant or racist," Wacholz told the Citizen Times in 2015, but "all the feedback I've gotten from people coming into my shop is completely positive. People have come in and tried to actually give me money just to keep the billboard up."

Cawthorn, who has developed a national following as one of the most far-right members of Congress, was heavily criticized for promoting Trump's January 6, 2021 rally near the U.S. Capitol, writing on Twitter that "the future of this Republic hinges on the actions of a solitary few." He was also a speaker at the rally, where he once again repeated baseless claims of election fraud.

"My friends, the Democrats with all the fraud they have done in this election, the Republicans hiding and not fighting — they are trying to silence your voice," Cawthorn said during the rally.

The day after the riot, he called members of the mob "disgusting" and "pathetic," saying he could not support their actions even though they likely would have voted for him if they were in his district. But only seven months later, while speaking at a Macon County GOP event in Franklin, Cawthorn called those arrested for their part in the insurrection "political prisoners." He also said "the second amendment was written so that we can fight against tyranny" and there would be "bloodshed" if elections continue to be "rigged." He later told the Smoky Mountain News: "I want to be very clear that the people that I'm specifically talking about, those people were there causing violence or they were causing some kind of vandalism, I want them to be charged to the full extent of the law. Even the people who were actually just around the Capitol, I want them to be charged to the full extent of law."

Last month, Cawthorn was cited for being in possession of a gun at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. According to Fox News, it was the second time Cawthorn has been stopped with a gun at an airport. Security personnel found a 9mm handgun in his carry-on bag at Asheville Regional Airport in February 2021.

Photo courtesy of REVERENCE

Wonderful gathering of great patriots at Cherokee Guns. Love nothing more than getting to be with the people I have the honor of fighting for.

Posted by Madison Cawthorn on Friday, May 6, 2022

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