East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell suggested in a Twitter exchange with a prominent gun-rights advocate that gun owners who might form an armed revolt if their firearms were taken away by U.S. government would not stand a chance because the federal government possesses nuclear weapons.
“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 to Joe Biggs, an U.S. veteran and contributor to Infowars, the controversial right-wing website founded by Alex Jones.
“So our government would nuke its own country in order to take guns? Wow,” Biggs replied to Swalwell, who then added, “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.”
The exchange quickly inflamed the right-wing media, which posted articles online at a frenetic pace Friday afternoon. Joe Walsh, a former member of Congress, and popular conservative radio host, also called out Swalwell on Twitter. Swalwell said his comment about nuclear weapons was sarcasm.
Swalwell’s vehement opposition form Second Amendment advocates became prominent last May when he floated an idea to take assault weapons off the streets by way of a federal $15 billion buyback program. The proposal caught the attention of the National Rifle Association, which claimed Swalwell “wants to confiscate 15 million guns.”
Ever since Swalwell’s surprise election in 2012, he has, for the most part, expertly used social media to inform constituents while attracting attention to himself. But like many of us, there have been mistakes.
For example, last September, Swalwell took heat when he tweeted “boo hoo,” in response to a story that Sen. Susan Collins had received threatening phone calls in the midst of the contentious Supreme Court senate confirmation hearings involving Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The tweet was viewed as insensitive to victims of assault and Swalwell later apologized.
But perhaps the most incendiary tweet before today occurred in July 2016 after the shooting of five Dallas police officers. Swalwell’s tweeted a knee-jerk reaction that suggested the shooter belonged to Black Lives Matter. “What happened tonight in #Dallas is sick & wrong. #BlackLivesMatter but this isn’t justice. We must be better than this,” he tweeted. The assailant turned out to have no association to the group.