The Oklahoman

State senator’s debate on guns goes viral

Dahm engages Jon Stewart in heated talk

- Jessie Christophe­r Smith

Oklahoma State Sen. Nathan Dahm is facing controvers­y after a tense debate with comedian Jon Stewart regarding the Second Amendment went viral in early March.

Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, sparred with Stewart in a taped interview for the comedian’s Apple TV+ series “The Problem with Jon Stewart” that premiered during the March 3 episode “Chaos, Law and Order.”

What did Jon Stewart and Nathan Dahm debate?

The debate grew increasing­ly heated as Stewart accused Dahm, who has submitted numerous pieces of legislatio­n to loosen gun restrictio­ns, of “hypocrisy at its highest order.” Stewart also argued Dahm’s support of antidrag show legislatio­n contradict­ed the rationale he used to justify anti-red-flag laws.

“What you’re telling me is, you don’t mind infringing free speech to protect children from this amorphous thing you think of,” Stewart said. “But when it comes to children that have died, you don’t give a flying f--- to stop that because that ‘shall not be infringed.’”

The exchange, which also touched on the opioid crisis and voter registrati­on, has drawn millions of views online. Many viewers questioned why the staunchly conservati­ve lawmaker would agree to sit down with the former “Daily Show” host known for his harsh criticisms of Republican politician­s.

“I’m not afraid of anyone or anything,” Dahm told K-TUL on Sunday. “I expected to be shown in a less-than-positive light. But I tried to take the opportunit­y to provide people with the truth. How they choose to use that is up to them.”

How has Nathan Dahm responded to public reaction to the Jon Stewart interview?

In an initial tweet Friday, Dahm expressed that he “enjoyed” the debate with Stewart, while also proposing that they could “continue it in a live & unedited format” with popular podcast host Joe Rogan.

As backlash from the interview grew over the weekend, Dahm shifted to a more defensive stance, telling K-TUL that “an hour-and-a-half interview” had been edited down to an eight-minute segment.

“How’s everyone enjoying their infotainme­nt this weekend?” Dahm tweeted Saturday. “Don’t forget the Oscars are coming up & they actually do offer awards for editing. But there’s no category for what leftists confuse & hail as journalism even when editing helps confirm their bias.”

Dahm said even more to K-TUL, arguing that viewers likely would interpret the interview through their own political leanings.

“People on the left will say that Jon Stewart eviscerate­d me – that’s what they’re saying,” Dahm said Sunday. “People on the right will say, ‘he interrupte­d you every time you tried to answer a question,’ or ‘he was a bully.’ ”

Despite the negative publicity the interview generated, Dahm said Stewart was polite both before and after the conversati­on and apologized to the senator for a heated moment during the exchange.

“I always try to be willing to have those conversati­ons, even if it’s from differing viewpoints,” Dahm said. “So I didn’t go into this expecting to get anything out of it. I just went there to try and share the truth.”

Dahm previously had campaigned to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by long-serving Sen. Jim Inhofe in 2022. He did not advance beyond third place in that year’s primary behind T.W. Shannon and Markwayne Mullin, who later was elected to that seat. Dahm’s time as a state senator is term-limited to 2024.

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