Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) suggested the United States government would use nuclear weapons in a theoretical war against gun rights supporters who refuse to give up assault weapons.
The Democratic congressman's comments were prompted by a Twitter user's response to an article about Swalwell's call to force gun owners to relinquish assault weapons. The piece recounts how Swalwell "has proposed outlawing ‘military-style semiautomatic assault weapons' and forcing existing owners to sell their weapons or face prosecution."
"So basically @RepSwalwell wants a war. Because that's what you would get. You're outta your fucking mind if you think I'll give up my rights and give the [government] all the power," Twitter user Joe Biggs said.
"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," Swalwell tweeted in reply.
"So our government would nuke its own country in order to take guns? Wow," Biggs responded.
"Don’t be so dramatic. You claiming you need a gun to protect yourself against the government is ludicrous. But you seem like a reasonable person. If an assault weapons ban happens, I’m sure you’ll follow law," Swalwell tweeted back.
A poll obtained by the Washington Free Beacon found that repealing the Second Amendment is the second most important issue for Democrats in this country, behind only single payer health care. Twenty-four percent of Democrats said it was their most important issue.
Swalwell later attempted to clarify his comments by saying he was being sarcastic.
"I sarcastically point[ed] out USA isn't losing to his assault weapon (it's not the 18th Century)," he said.
He also retweeted a back-and-forth with radio host Joe Walsh, in which Swalwell also said he was being sarcastic.
Swalwell has been floated as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, and the congressman said earlier this month he is "absolutely" looking into a run.
Update 5:16 p.m.: This post was updated with Swalwell's later tweets describing the initial point as "sarcasm."