Guns, Second Amendment, Trigger Strong Emotions in Gun-Loving Shasta County; Targeted Supervisor Responds to Lies

District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty fires a gun during target practice. Source: Stand With Moty 2022 Facebook page.

Shasta County is home to the highest rates of per capita guns sales among all California counties. Shasta County has 12 times as many Conceal Carry Weapons licenses (CCW) as Los Angeles County. It is estimated that 65 guns are sold annually for every 1,000 people who call Shasta County home.

Gun ownership and the Second Amendment are hot issues in the recall election currently underway that will determine the fate of District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty, and the upcoming available seats in Districts 1 and 5 during the June 2022 elections.

Recall Shasta pushes misinformation about Moty and Second Amendment

Leonard Moty was first elected as a Shasta County District 2 supervisor in 2008. Between 1977 and 2008, he worked as a police officer for the Redding Police Department, spending six years as chief of police before retiring.

The movement to recall Moty, led by Recall Shasta, with support from Red, White and Blueprint, is filled with misinformation. One piece of misinformation currently being pushed by Recall Shasta television and radio ads is that Moty does not support the Second Amendment.

This is a lie. 


Advertisement for Red, White and Blueprint merchandise. Source: Facebook/Instagram. Left photo, from left, RWB producer Jon Knight, RWB cast member Woody Clendenen, and other RWB followers/merchandise models.

Tale of two Second Amendment resolutions; one rejected, one accepted

In July of 2021, a Second Amendment resolution composed by Shasta County Gun Owners, the local chapter of the California Rifle Association (CRPA), was read during a public comment portion of a Shasta County Board of Supervisor meeting.

The Second Amendment resolution contained several unconstitutional clauses about gun ownership. One stated that Shasta County would reject any federal and state laws that regulated the ownership or carrying of guns.

Shasta County Gun Owners Second Amendment Resolution.

Because of the resolution’s extreme nature and the fact that it contained several unconstitutional clauses, the board of supervisors composed their own resolution that simply pledged support for the Second Amendment, without accepting the resolution. 

The board of supervisors were scheduled to vote on their own Second Amendment resolution in March, however, supervisor and then-board chair Joe Chimenti pulled it from the agenda in a show of respect and sensitivity after a gunman killed 10 people in Boulder, Colorado, in what was the second deadly mass shooting within a week’s time.

Shasta County Board of Supervisor Second Amendment Resolution.

The pulling of the board-of-supervisor composed Second Amendment resolution and failure to accept the resolution with unconstitutional clauses upset some Shasta County Gun Owners members. Chair Chimenti contacted higher-ups in the CRPA to gauge their perspectives on the situation, but never heard back.

After a few months, the board’s alt-right, pro-recall ultra-conservative supervisors, Les Baugh (District 5) and Patrick Jones (District 4), started to complain about the failure of the board to adopt the Shasta County Gun Owners’ resolution. Jones requested that the Shasta County Gun Owners’ resolution be brought back as an agenda item. Moty motioned to not bring it back. Subsequently, since then, alt-right, anti-Moty community members have used Moty’s motion to brand him as anti-Second Amendment.

Moty explains motion against unconstitutional gun resolution 

On Jan. 4, Moty posted on his Stand With Moty 2022 Facebook page a statement that addressed the lie that he does not support the Second Amendment. He reiterated that the reason he did not support the Shasta County Gun Owners’ resolution was because it was unconstitutional. As it turned out, leaders of the CRPA also disavowed the resolution composed by its local chapter.

District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty. Source: Stand With Moty 2022 Facebook page.

Moty also claimed in the statement he posted online that he has a healthy respect for guns. He is trained to use them, and he supports the right to obtain CCWs. 

Among the many lies made by Recall Shasta about Moty is the bogus accusation that Moty issued only a few CCW permits while employed as the chief of police. The truth is, while police chief, Moty never denied a single application.

More to the point, Recall Shasta’s claim related to Moty and CCWs is a red herring since the vast majority of Shasta County citizens who seek CCWs are aware that the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department is the lead law enforcement agency responsible for issuing Shasta County CCW permits, not the Redding Police Department. This is true throughout California, and Recall Shasta people know it. 

District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty fires a gun during target practice. Source: Stand With Moty 2022 Facebook page.

Shasta County needs only leaders who are responsible gun owners

While some gun-owners are braggadocios when it comes to talking about guns, Moty takes a more reasonable and rational approach. He takes pride in being a responsible gun owner.

Like Moty, District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert is also a responsible gun owner, but is someone who doesn’t see the need to talk about guns a lot. Rickert, a cattle rancher who co-owns a brokerage firm with her husband, views guns as a tool.

“They have to be used in the ranching business,” Rickert said. “We do use them regularly for various legitimate reasons.”

Cautionary tale: Do not brandish weapons at work

Richard Gallardo, an alt-right Shasta County pro-recall character, regularly shows up to rant and rage at board of supervisors meetings. He once attempted to place the entire board, along with County Counsel Rubin Cruse, under citizen’s arrest for unfounded allegations. Gallardo’s attempt failed, and he was ordered by then-chair Rickert to be escorted by deputies from the board chambers.

Gallardo is a former representative of Shasta County Gun Owners.

For some background about Gallardo, he was dismissed in Aug. 2017 from his Redding-area-based Cal Fire job as a fire engineer for brandishing a gun at work. 

Richard Gallardo is escorted away from the dais by two Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputies (Greg Walker and Will Gardner) after threating a citizen’s arrest of the board of supervisors and county counsel.

Gun shops and the recall election

Redding Guns, a gun shop owned by Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputy Tyler Thompson, was a Redding business location that collected signatures to get the recall election on the ballot. The shop’s Facebook page is littered with alt-right content. The establishment sells State of Jefferson gear for the anti-government movement that seeks to break Northern California away from the state, and thus create a 51rst state.

A photograph shared on Facebook last December by Redding Guns includes a cardboard gun pointed at a picture of Governor Gavin Newsom.

Fort Jones, a gun shop owned by District 5 Supervisor Patrick Jones’ family, also collected signatures to get the recall election on the ballot.

District 5 Supervisor Patrick Jones’ 2020 campaign poster.

One of Jones’ right-hand men is Woody Clendenen, the owner and operator of a barber shop in Cottonwood. Clendenen is also a Red, White and Blueprint cast member, and the leader of the local chapter of the California militia.

A dramatic profile image on Clendenen’s Facebook page shows an extreme closeup of him firing an assault weapon. This was among photos found on Clendenen’s Facebook page from his periodic work as a bit actor in small-time local filmmaker Rene Perez’s B-movies.

The words around the image are clear: “When tyranny becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” 

A Woody Clendenen Facebook profile picture features a photo from his bit acting gig in a B-movie, with some words to inspire fellow patriots.

Terry Rapoza, all talk, low on guns, lousy shot

Terry Rapoza, another alt-right supporter of the recall movement, regularly speaks in favor of guns and the Second Amendment. Rapoza is in charge of merchandise sales for the State of Jefferson movement, and cohosts the Jefferson State of Mine podcast and radio show.

Rapoza has often said that he wants Shasta County to have a constitutional sheriff who will support California’s obscure open-carry policy known as penal code 26150. Rapoza has also said that people should be able to open carry without permits, and they should be allowed to purchase guns without going through background checks. Rapoza has called upon the county sheriff to support this.

One source close to the Rapoza family recalled that while Terry Rapoza frequently expressed his love of guns and appreciation for the Second Amendment, Rapoza was not much of a gun collector. The source surmised that Rapoza’s bluster about guns was mostly for show; a Rambo-style bravado. 

The source recalled many years back, when Rapoza went to the shooting range a few times with his State of Jefferson pals. The source also recalled one time when Rapoza attempted to shoot an opossum, but missed. 

When it comes to discussing everything from the State of Jefferson and the Constitution, to guns, Rapoza comes across as a slick, confident salesman. This makes sense, as Rapoza’s employment history reveals a variety of sales positions throughout his life. 

Various photographs of Terry Rapoza. The bottom left image shows Rapoza posing with Mark Kent at a recent Recall Moty protest on Hilltop Drive and Cypress Avenue in Redding.

Tarick Mahmoud, replacement candidate, talks guns

On Jan. 5, the day after Moty posted his statement about guns on Facebook, Tarick Mahmoud, a local pharmacist running as a potential District 2 replacement candidate, talked about guns in a KCNR radio interview.

I’m a very big Second Amendment proponent and, you know, I’ve owned a lot of guns and it’s one of the reasons why I loved Redding when I first got here,” Mahmoud said. “I had an AK-47, I have an AR, I have multiple shotguns. I had handguns, all kinds of handguns.”

Mahmoud, who agreed to be interviewed for this article, and responded via email and voice mail, said he spoke of guns he’s owned in the past, as well as which guns he currently owns. Mahmoud said guns are fun, and that many gun-enthusiasts and gun-supporters like to talk about what firearms they own, and their experiences firing them.

Keep in mind the context is a radio show that’s friendly to guns, in a county friendly to guns,” Mahmoud said.

When asked about guns, the Second Amendment, and why they’re significant topics in Shasta County’s current elections, Mahmoud explained: 

The Second Amendment is about the government not having a monopoly over the use of force,” he said. “I think it’s amazing that America is the only country on planet Earth that has that written down as a right for its people to enjoy. Rights are like muscles; you lose the ones you don’t exercise.”

Mahmoud’s III% tattoo

Mahmoud sports a tattoo that resembles the Three Percenter logo on his left arm. The Three Percenters is an anti-government militia organization that advocates for gun ownership and resistance to the federal government. Members of the group were present at the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Mahmoud said he is not anti-government, that he does not support criminal activity, and that he is not part of any militia.

Photographs of Tarick Mahmoud. Source: Mahmoud’s Facebook page and the Thought You Should Known – Shasta County Facebook group page.

Talk on guns, Second Amendment, at Red, White and Blueprint debate

American Legion Post 746 in Cottonwood.

Last month, Red, White and Blueprint hosted a debate at the American Legion Post in Cottonwood. The event included several candidates who seek to replace Moty, should the recall succeed. Debate participants also included those interested in District 1 and District 5 seats available because supervisors Chimenti and Baugh, respectively, decided to not run for re-election in the June 2022 elections.

Tim Garman, Dale Ball, and Tarick Mahmoud were the three Moty replacement candidate hopefuls who attended the event. Kevin Crye was there as a District 1 hopeful. Chris Kelstrom and Colt Roberts participated as possible District 5 candidates.

During the debate’s public Q&A segment, Ed Roberts, the father of District 5 candidate Colt Roberts, stepped up to the microphone held by Rapoza. The fact that Ed Roberts was Colt Roberts’ father was not shared with attendees.

The elder Roberts asked the candidates if they were willing to defy state and federal infringements on the Second Amendment, and if people should be required to have a permit to carry a firearm.

Top Right: Ed Roberts asks question at Red, White and Blueprint debate; Top Right and Bottom: Ed Roberts and Colt Roberts at pro-Carlos Zapata protest last summer.

Widespread support for open carry

All of the candidates present who answered Roberts’ question expressed that they were not only staunch supporters of the Second Amendment, but they also were in favor of an open-carry county. Several candidates incorrectly claimed the county sheriff could make open carry possible.

Kevin Crye joked that he obtained his CCW after Hilary Clinton decided she was going to run for president, a comment that made the audience laugh.

Who needs a CCW permit? Not Kelstrom and Roberts 

Kelstrom and Colt Roberts both claimed they open carry without a CCW permit. Kelstrom, a long-time supporter of the State of Jefferson movement, claimed he once possessed a CCW permit, but he did not renew it because Kelstrom believes he has the right to carry a firearm without one.

“Exactly!” chimed in one member of the audience as others applauded.

Chris Kelstrom’s Facebook profile pictures show him carrying a massive rifle and posing at various State of Jefferson rallies. In the bottom right picture, he stands with Jon Knight of Red, White and Blueprint.

Roberts, the last person to answer his father’s question, stated that CCW permits are unconstitutional, and added, “I will carry my firearm wherever I want!”

Roberts followed this statement by saying that if he were elected as a Shasta County supervisor, he would support open-carry-without-a-permit. He echoed others who claimed the county sheriff needed to pass an ordinance allowing exactly that. Roberts’ statements about gun rights earned him loud applause from the audience.

Roberts’ webpage lists the Second Amendment as one of Roberts’ three campaign platform issues: 

The Second Amendment is one that I hold near and dear to my heart. It is truly our last line of defense against a tyrannical government. As your supervisor I will fight with extreme vigor to secure this right, and all of your constitutionally protected rights.” 

Roberts’ statement about AR-15s at ‘medical freedom’ rallies

Last summer Roberts posted an alarming comment on his Facebook page, that the COVID-19 “medical freedom” rallies would be more successful if protesters were armed.

I can’t help but think, that if every person at our medical freedom rallies had an AR-15 in their hands the powers that be would start listening with extreme vigor…just a thought.”

Top Left: Photograph from Colt Roberts for Shasta County Supervisor 2022 Facebook page; Top Right: Roberts at the Red, White and Blueprint debate in Cottonwood; Bottom: Roberts’ statement about guns and “medical freedom” protests.

Roberts’ comments on guns in recent months are noteworthy, especially considering his wife Molly Roberts was sworn into office as a Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputy on December 22.

Top Left: Colt and Molly Roberts wear Red, White and Blueprint hats. Source: Colt Roberts for Shasta County Supervisor 2022 Facebook page. Other photographs show Molly at Butte College Law Enforcement Academy graduation, and being sworn into office by Shasta County Sheriff Michael Johnson. Source: Shasta County Sheriff’s Department.

Roberts was contacted by this reporter who offered Roberts an opportunity to clarify or expand upon his previous statements about guns. Robert’s written response was a one-word answer: “NUTS!”

In a recent comment thread on Facebook, Roberts, an ardent Kyle Rittenhouse supporter, described himself as a gun enthusiast. Roberts, who’s never served in the military, and has no combat training, has vowed that he will defend himself, his family, and his country, and would die, if necessary, on his quest to do so.

All conservatives are not the same

One Shasta County resident took to the Thought You Should Know Facebook group page recently and argued that liberals, like herself, would be better off not supporting Moty during the recall election because he is a conservative Republican. She claimed that among other things, Moty is obsessed with guns, just like the local militia.

This is not true.

Moty is a responsible gun owner and supporter of the Second Amendment. Moty does not boast on radio interviews about what kind of guns he owns. Moty does not own a gun shop that collects recall-petition signatures while simultaneously arming citizens with guns and posting extremist content on social media. Moty does not believe protests would be more successful if protesters carried high powered guns. Moty does not brag about carrying guns wherever, whenever he wants; without a permit. 

Home of the brave?

In one of Mahmoud’s final replies to questions for this article, he said that the founding fathers were revolutionaries, not anarchists.

Despite all of the talk about tyranny, liberty, and the Founding Fathers in Shasta County’s alt-right conservative community, it seems like what some of their leaders want most is open-carry anarchy, not a revolution.

It also seems as if they lack a solid grasp on what the Second Amendment really means.

Shawn Schwaller

Opinion writer and reporter Shawn Schwaller grew up in Red Bluff, California. He is an assistant professor in the History Department at California State University, Chico and holds a Ph.D. in history and an M.A. in American studies. Schwaller specializes in North State stories about law-enforcement corruption and far-right politics. He can be reached at schwaller.anewscafe@yahoo.com and welcomes your story tips.

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