A Republican candidate for U.S. Congress is on the defensive after a Facebook post he made on his campaign page.
Brad Staats, who is running for Tennessee’s 5th congressional district, posted a photo of a handgun on Facebook page complete with this caption:
“Many people in Tennessee keep asking me about my opinion on Second Amendment rights. Apparently Tennesseans are part of that crazy crowd that Obama says “cling to their religion and guns.” Well, then I must be part of that crazy crowd. Here is something that I usually have with me. Welcome to Tennessee Mr. Obama, where we appreciate our 2nd Amendment rights and the Constitution that was wisely given to us by our founding fathers.”
Although the post contains no clear threats to the President’s life, the reference to Obama paired with a gun was unsurprisingly enough to trigger a response.
“So the Tennessean took one of my posts and called it a threat to Barack Obama, which was completely taken out of context. My post from Friday was regarding the fact that the UN Small Arms Treaty, passed last week will undermine our Second Amendment Rights.”
Here’s the controversial post:
The post makes no reference to the treaty that Staats used to justify it, but he went on to defend the post in a followup with the Tennessean, When asked if he was threatening the President:
“Good Lord, no,” he said. “Absolutely not. I’m not one of those that would ever threaten the president. He’s probably got enough of his own stuff to worry about without me,” said Staats.
But he didn’t back down on the original sentiment of the post, saying this at a campaign event Monday evening:
“I do want President Obama to know as well as the rest of Congress and everyone else regarding our constitutional, rights don’t tread on America’s constitution. I think that your liberties, your life can be defended by the proper instructed use of a handgun.”
The post is vague enough to hide Staat’s intentions, and he claims he meant no harm. For their part, the Secret Service doesn’t seem too concerned. “We’re aware of it, and we will conduct any appropriate follow-up if necessary,” said a spokesman. No matter his intentions, people in the public eye must be extra careful with what they say on social media. Context is an easy thing to lose on Facebook and Twitter, and public players must be sure that everything they post is as unambiguous as possible.