An Arizona state senate candidate stunned the crowd at a gun control group’s event when he began talking about how he shot his own mother in self defense several decades ago in his defense of gun ownership and the Second Amendment. Bobby Wilson, a Republican running in the state senate’s 2nd district in southern Arizona, told the crowd at a Moms Demand Action event, “I’m lucky to be alive, twice over,” according to The Associated Press.
Wilson, 73, has not been hiding his past. He wrote about it on his Facebook page and has published a book about the incident. Wilson also talked at the July 9 event about former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in Tucson in 2011, who was in the audience along with other gun violence survivors, saying she should have had more armed security, the AP reports.
“I’ve never ever heard someone be so aggressive in that view, and also to drag Gabby into it, I thought, was so distasteful and so disgusting,” Rep. Daniel Hernandez, a Democrat who represents the district Wilson is running in, told the AP. Jacob Martinez, an organizer with March for Our Lives AZ told the news organization, “He should know better than anybody that something needs to be done, and the fact that he can’t acknowledge that speaks volumes.”
Wilson, now a lawyer, told the crowd that he is still a licensed gun owner and a proud NRA member, but has not had to use a weapon to defend himself since the first incident. “That’s the only time I’ve ever been in that situation, and I hope it’s the last time,” Wilson told the crowd.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Wilson Was Arrested on Murder Charges in 1963 After His Mother & Sister Were Killed, but the Case Was Dismissed
Bobby Wilson was arrested on murder charges in 1963 when he was 18, according to the Arizona Republic. He was accused of fatally shooting his 49-year-old mother, Lavonne Wilson, and 17-year-old sister, Judy Wilson, and then burning down his family’s home. But Wilson has said he killed his mother in self defense after she shot at him, shot and killed his sister and set their home on fire.
“He and his sister were raised by a deranged mother who was a fugitive hiding in the backwoods of S.E. Oklahoma. In 1963, she tried to murder her own children in the early morning hours and only Bobby survived the deadly chaos that followed,” Wilson wrote on his campaign’s Facebook page. Archived newspaper articles from the time and Wilson’s writings and comments about the incident show it happened in Hugo, Oklahoma, in Choctaw County.
During the Moms Demand Action event, Wilson told the crowd, “(She) was hell-bent on killing me in my sleep one night. At three o’clock in the morning, I woke up to find a rifle in my face — a semiautomatic rifle at that — and the bullets started to fly, and I started diving for cover.” Wilson said he dodged six bullets before getting a gun out from under his bed and then shooting her.
According to news reports from 1963 in Oklahoma newspapers, police claimed Wilson confessed to killing his mother and sister after he was arrested on murder charges. But Wilson denies that he ever made a confession. He wrote on Facebook after news reports about his comments at the July 9 event, that the “local newspaper editor and the local sheriff had to later admit on the witness stand at my second trial that the lied about my so-called confession and that there NEVER WAS A CONFESSION!!! Try harder to print the whole thruth (sic) next time. … I know how President Trump feels now with all the fake news stories making the rounds about me. Oh Well; as he said there is no such thing as bad publishisty (sic). Guess I will run for President one of these days.”
The archived newspaper stories uncovered by the Arizona Republic tell a different story. Those reports said Wilson’s mother and sister were found dead after their house exploded in June 1963. Bobby Wilson was found outside gasping for breath. Police initially believed the victims had died of suffocation in their sleep, but later realized they had been killed. The sheriff’s office said Wilson confessed to killing them, telling investigators he shot his mother and then hit his sister in the head with his gun, before putting their bodies on their beds and lighting the house on fire.
During the trial, Wilson claimed he suffered from memory loss and his lawyers filed an argument that he was mentally incapable of making a rational defense. A jury found that Wilson did suffer from amnesia and a judge ruled that Wilson was not capable of proceeding to trial. Wilson, who had spent seven months in the county jail, was released on $20,000 bail. The case was “suspended” and then dismissed seven years later, because his attorney argued he had been deprived of his right to a speedy trial.
2. He Told the Crowd at the Gun Control Group’s Event He Is ‘Living Proof’ That a ‘Good Guy With a Gun’ Is Necessary
Bobby Wilson told the crowd at the Moms Demand Action event that he is “living proof” that the only one who can stop someone trying to cause harm is a “good guy with a gun,” The Associated Press reports.
On his Facebook page, Wilson wrote about his decision to attend the event, “I was the only Republican Candidate who had the guts to appear before the Moms Against Gun Violence in Tucson last night and praise the NRA. I was greeted with boos and catcalls. Loved it!”
Wilson told the Arizona Republic, “When I was in high school, all of the high-school boys had rifles and shotguns in their cars every day when they came to school, and nobody shot anybody at school, and nobody even thought about it. In today’s world, we’ve got people walking into the public schools and public events and killing innocent people, and yes, the only way you can stop that is somebody better have a firearm to put a stop to it.”
He added, “I don’t think you can control people’s behavior by passing laws. They keep looking for a magic-bullet law that they can pass where it’s gonna put an end to the killings and the gun violence, and they’re not gonna find the magic bullet. There is no magic bullet. I don’t think you can control people’s behavior by passing laws. They keep looking for a magic-bullet law that they can pass where it’s gonna put an end to the killings and the gun violence, and they’re not gonna find the magic bullet. There is no magic bullet.”
3. Wilson Wrote a Book About His Case Called ‘Bobby’s Trials’ in 2010
Wilson wrote a book about his case in 2010 called, “Bobby’s Trials.” The description of the book on Amazon states:
Since 1963, Bobby Wilson has held his tongue in regards to the presumed murder of his family in which he was put on trial. In ‘Bobby’s Trials,’ he pens an insightful, heartbreaking memoir of the events that led up to the violent deaths of his mother and sister. As he chronicles his early childhood, he reveals what life was like for him growing up as an Oklahoma farm boy with a mother who suffered debilitating depression as well as strange fits of paranoiac rage. An absolutely spellbinding true-life crime drama, this intimate debut proves to be a strangely uplifting anecdote of survival. As Wilson wrestles with clinical amnesia, endures two murder cases against him, becomes a lawyer, and becomes a husband and father, readers have a benchmark in overcoming incredible odds—and proof that justice often is elusive, if it occurs at all.
During an interview in 2017, Wilson told the Green Valley News that he remembered the details of the tragic night while working as an attorney years later.
“The full details didn’t become conscious until I was investigating the case of one of my first law clients, who also had been falsely accused of murder. She, like me, had no money or resources to defend herself against the heavily biased legal machine,” Wilson told the newspaper. He said he was looking for clues in her car when he smelled the scent of gasoline and blood. “The horrible, nauseating smells off the car plummeted me back like a lightning bolt to that fateful night in my childhood, and all the memories flooded in. It was an incredibly disturbing experience, but it also brought relief: now I had the truth.”
Wilson also wrote three other books, including a novel, “State of Unrest,” about a man in Massachusetts who went into a school and killed teachers and students after first killing his mother. The book was published six months before the Sandy Hook school shooting, which had many similarities to the story in his book.
“In that book I predicted that some nutcase was going to go into a kindergarten and a preschool in Massachusetts and was going to kill a bunch of the teachers and the students, which would cause a huge uproar for gun control,” he told the Tucson Weekly. “I just had a feeling something like that was going to happen.”
4. After Being Cleared of the Charges, Wilson Went to College & Law School in Texas Before Moving to Phoenix & Opening a PI Firm
Wilson moved to Texas after being acquitted of the charges and graduated from the University of Texas-Arlington in 1968 with a degree in political science, according to the Green Valley News. He then graduated from Texas Tech University Law School in 1973.
He practiced law in Burleson, Texas, from 1974 to 1994, when he moved to Phoenix. According to his campaign’s Facebook page, Wilson then opened a private investigation firm in Maricopa County, which he ran for 10 years.
Wilson told the Tucson Weekly he wanted to become a lawyer to make use of his experience in the legal system.
5. Wilson, Who Is Married, Has 3 Daughters & Teaches College Law Classes, Says He Supports the ‘Second Amendment, Small Business & Back the Blue’
Bobby Wilson now lives in Green Valley, Arizona, with his wife, Eileen. They have three grown daughters. Wilson teaches law classes at the Maricopa County Community College District, according to his Facebook page. Wilson writes he is also “a volunteer at Friends in Deed and Our Lady of the Valley, Catholic Church.”
Wilson says on his Facebook page he supports parental choice on education, school vouchers, vocational training in all high schools, the second amendment, small business and “Back the Blue.”
He told the Green Valley News last year, “I am looking at the local state House seat, the one currently occupied by a fool. Education right now is terrible. I want all of our students graduating from Arizona high schools to be well-trained in a good vocation when they get out. If I was elected, fixing that would be a major goal. But I’m not going to sugarcoat anything.”