A GOP lawmaker is being intensely criticized after a bizarre tweet toward Democratic President Joe Biden, which many people interpreted as a threat.
South Dakota Republican Senator Mike Rounds posted the tweet earlier today as a challenge to the President over his recent statements in favor of gun regulations.
After mere hours, the post had already gone viral for its menacing tone. Many questioned whether the underlying intent of the tweet was a thinly veiled death threat.
Hey @JoeBiden - come and take it. Careful, she bites too. https://t.co/NOKWlq5aQv— Senator Mike Rounds (@Senator Mike Rounds)1616691303.0
The tweet was presumably in response to comments Biden made on Tuesday in favor of gun safety reform in the wake of this week's mass shooting in Colorado and last week's in Atlanta.
The tweet featured a photograph of a statue of Rounds that stands in the South Dakota capital of Pierre as part of an exhibit in the city called The Trail of Governors. Rounds stands beside his dog holding a rifle aloft, gripping it just below the trigger as if ready to point it.
The caption, directed at President Biden, said:
"Hey @JoeBiden - come and take it. Careful, she bites too."
It's worth noting that a hunting rifle like Rounds carries in the statue is not an assault weapon and would not be subject to the legislation Biden mentioned on Tuesday.
That aside, the tweet was bizarre on several levels, starting with the fact that Rounds' dog appears to be licking his crotch in the statue, and that Rounds was apparently challenging Joe Biden to some kind of stand-off with a statue.
But far more bracing was the tweet's subtext, which many saw as a threat to shoot the President of the United States if he were to try to pass legislation regulating gun ownership. That is, after all, the meaning of right wingers' beloved "Come and take it" gun rights slogan―a sort of dare to brave being shot at.
On Twitter, many people were deeply disturbed.
Here is a senator threatening to shoot the president. https://t.co/ALS7UNgeBB— German Lopez (@German Lopez)1616691943.0
The GOP has already fomented one deadly insurrection. This kind of rhetoric that can foment another armed insurrect… https://t.co/aMoweidgzf— SD Democratic Party (@SD Democratic Party)1616695029.0
@SenatorRounds @JoeBiden Are you threatening to shoot the President?— Dave Acosta (@Dave Acosta)1616691584.0
@SenatorRounds @JoeBiden It’s cool how the pro-life dude reacts this way after multiple mass shootings. very normal stuff.— Roy Rogers McFreely (@Roy Rogers McFreely)1616691673.0
@SenatorRounds @JoeBiden Such an embarrassment, @SenatorRounds. Dozens of families grieving new losses *just this w… https://t.co/CcyBzvxQX3— Jennifer S. Hyk 🇺🇸🏳️🌈🏴💙🌎 (@Jennifer S. Hyk 🇺🇸🏳️🌈🏴💙🌎)1616693166.0
Others couldn't help but roll their eyes at Rounds' failed―and very weird―attempt at bravado.
@SenatorRounds @JoeBiden That is an unnecessary, weird, and completely weak flex. It was not even worth the effort.— Keith Benson Hines (@Keith Benson Hines)1616691658.0
@SenatorRounds @JoeBiden Is that a statue of you with a dog licking your balls, Michael?— Jeff (@Jeff)1616691821.0
If politicians took half of the energy they are putting towards failing at being cool on Twitter and used it toward… https://t.co/zQuZRkevU4— Tatjana Pasalic (@Tatjana Pasalic)1616692464.0
Looks like the dog's gonna take it before Biden can even get there. https://t.co/GfXNtY6djO— Richard (RJ) Eskow (@Richard (RJ) Eskow)1616694401.0
@SenatorRounds @JoeBiden someone close to you should have told you this tweet was a dumb idea— Spider-Pelinka (@Spider-Pelinka)1616691533.0
Along with expanded background checks for gun buyers, which even most Republicans support, Biden proposed on Tuesday a nationwide assault weapons ban and restrictions on high capacity magazines for firearms. Neither law would have any impact on hunting rifles like the one Rounds is holding in his statue.