US Congress candidate under fire over ‘IRA and ArmaLite’ video which has been viewed 2m times

The video surfaced as Texas Republican Brandon Herrera faces a run-off vote on Tuesday against incumbent representative Tony Gonzalez

Brandon Herrera at his Texas shooting range
Brandon Herrera at his Texas shooting range

A candidate on the ballot for the United States Congress has been heavily criticised after a video surfaced of him joking about the IRA and its use of the ArmaLite rifle.

Key parts of the video from 2023 featuring Brandon Herrera and unearthed by The Daily Beast were branded “jaw-droppingly stupid” by one leading human rights activist from Northern Ireland.

A 28-year-old popular on YouTube and a gun salesman, Mr Herrera posed for part of the video in a balaclava and, after the AR-180 jammed, said: “This is why Ireland is not free.”

The rebel song ‘Come out, ye Black and Tans’ is played as he fires off round after round.

Mr Herrera faces incumbent representative Tony Gonzalez in the Republican run-off after securing 24% of the vote in a crowded initial primary poll in March. Mr Gonzalez failed to secure 50% of the vote.

The 23rd District stretches along the Mexican border and includes parts of San Antonio and the town of Uvalde, the scene of a mass shooting in May 2022 that left 19 elementary school children and two teachers dead.

In the video posted on St Patrick’s Day last year, entitled ‘The AR-180: IRA’s Lucky Charm’ and which was viewed 2m times, Mr Herrera insisted he does not support or like the IRA.

“They were pretty heavily socialist, of course, and really hurt a lot of innocent people,” he says.

“So I’m not doing this because I like the IRA or I support them. I’m doing this video because I f***ing hate the British. I’m kidding. I’m kidding mostly.”

He added in reference to an advertisement for a breakfast cereal: “The IRA (were) very famously unhappy for a certain group of folks going after their lucky charms.” ]]

His remarks after the gun jammed prompted human rights consultant Aidan McQuade to comment: “From a historical perspective it is jaw-droppingly stupid to suggest that the course of the Troubles could have been changed with a more dependable ArmaLite.”

Mr McQuade, the former director of Anti-Slavery International and originally from south Armagh, added: “From a human perspective, Herrera’s attitude to violence seems that of an adolescent video-gamer blissfully ignorant of the trauma that war inflicts on a society, and the unending grief of victims’ devastated families.

Aidan McQuade – declaring war is not like some grand game of chess; there are consequences
Aidan McQuade – declaring war is not like some grand game of chess; there are consequences

“Coming from a comedian, as Herrera attempts to be, such attitudes would be tiresome. But coming from someone who hopes to be an elected representative such callous and facile thinking is inexcusable.”

Mr Herrera was previously heavily criticised after testing a submachine gun from Nazi Germany while goose stepping to a marching song associated with its soldiers.

US Congress candidate Brandon Herrera
US Congress candidate Brandon Herrera

He was endorsed by Florida Representative Matt Gaetz, a prominent support of former President Donald Trump, who has not backed either candidate in the race.