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What started out as an earnest, if overly hopeful call to implement stronger gun control in America has turned into a Twitter storm of outrage and incredulity from conservatives. This time, it’s aimed at Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who wrote an op-ed titled “Ban assault weapons, buy them back, go after resisters: Ex-prosecutor in Congress” for USA Today this week.
The response to the article itself was fairly typical: A mishmash of angry Facebook comments from Second Amendment proponents, Twitter trolling, and conservative commentators like National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch decrying Swalwell’s position.
Things came to a boil when Swalwell responded to former InfoWars blogger Joe Biggs, who accused Swalwell of wanting a “war.”
“And it would be a short war, my friend,” Swalwell responded via tweet. “The government has nukes. Too many of them. But they’re legit. I’m sure if we talked we could find common ground to protect our families and communities.”
And it would be a short war my friend. The government has nukes. Too many of them. But they’re legit. I’m sure if we talked we could find common ground to protect our families and communities.— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) November 16, 2018
Don’t be so dramatic. No one is nuking anyone or threatening that. I’m telling you this is not the 18th Century. The argument that you would go to war with your government if an assault weapons ban was in place is ludicrous and inflames the gun debate. Which is what you want. https://t.co/oX0rY7Nbs1— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) November 16, 2018
When Loesch derided Swalwell’s op-ed, he also responded to her, stating “She’s not lying. We should ban assault weapons by buying them back or restricting them to ranges/clubs. #EnoughIsEnough.”
Since Swalwell’s op-ed and comment, right-wing Twitter has been aflutter with conservatives continuing to decry the congressman’s words and stances. One chief example is Joe Walsh, the former Republican congressman and conservative radio host who in 2016 came under criticism for a tweet that many regarded as a direct threat of violence to then-President Obama.
"If you don't turn over your guns, we'll nuke you" is definitely a reasonable argument to make. https://t.co/4YFDxi1CPf— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) November 16, 2018
Swalwell responded to Walsh’s comment, lamenting his inability to use sarcasm in online discourse.
Joe, it’s sarcasm. He said he’s going to war with America if gun legislation was passed. I told him his government has nukes. God forbid we use sarcasm 🤷♂️— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) November 16, 2018
Walsh responded again by highlighting the fear of Second Amendment supporters that the government will come to take their weapons away. He also reiterated to Swalwell that “you and I disagree on pretty much every issue, but I respect the heck out of you. You’re a good man. A principled Member of Congress.”
Eric, I get that your use of "nukes" was sarcasm, and, yep, twitter doesn't do nuance.— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) November 16, 2018
But understand how many of us gun clinging Americans recoil at the word "confiscation" and will do whatever we have to do to defend our guns against a government that would take them. Thanks https://t.co/GDDsm0gt0U
Despite that nuanced, measured response, that didn’t stop Walsh from hosting an episode of his radio show on the topic with the Twitter headline “The #2A is the still the most important amendment, especially after a sitting Congressman ‘sarcastically’ threatens to nuke fellow Americans over it.”
Swalwell recently appeared on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher to discuss how he is “considering” running for president in 2020. At the age of 40, Swalwell would be the youngest American president in history if elected.
Swalwell closed the day’s deliberations with two glib remarks.
America’s gun debate in one thread.— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) November 16, 2018
1) I propose a buy-back of assault weapons
2) Gun owner says he’ll go to war with USA if that happens
3) I sarcastically point out USA isn’t losing to his assault weapon (it’s not the 18th Century)
4) I’m called a tyrant
5) 0 progress
Taking on the gun trolls to protect kids from being slaughtered in class sometimes feels like Moana taking on these guys. *WARNING: My frame of reference for next 10 years will be @Disney movies. pic.twitter.com/NMQ3xxXNmy— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) November 16, 2018
President Donald Trump approved a $700 billion budget for the United State military earlier this year, exceeding the 2017 budget by about $90 billion, and making it the largest military budget in the history of the country. According to data from the Federation of American Scientists (via Time), the United States has 6,800 warheads, 1,800 of which were deployed as of 2017.
The NRA was recently the subject of criticism itself after the official NRA Twitter account told medical professionals to “stay in your lane” when it comes to commenting on the gruesome results of gun violence. The tweet prompted numerous medical workers to post their own thoughts on the matter, in addition to explicitly bloody photos of their workplaces after gun violence victims arrived.
You can see what your state’s gun control laws are with Daily Dot’s comprehensive guide.
Joseph Knoop is a gaming writer for Daily Dot, a native Chicagoan, and a slave to all things Overwatch. He co-founded the college geek culture outlet ByteBSU, then interned at Game Informer, and now writes for a bunch websites his parents have never heard of.