A quote attributed to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., after he and a dozen Republican colleagues were the target of a shooter who apparently was politically motivated is re-circulating on the Web as an example of the “hypocrisy” of the right.
The June 2016 tweet — cited in the context of the shooting spree by a Bernie Sanders supporter Wednesday morning in which House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was seriously wounded — states: “Why do we have a Second Amendment? It’s not to shoot deer. It’s to shoot at the government when it becomes tyrannical!”
But Paul “never said those words,” the senator’s spokesman told WND on Friday.
Sergio Gor, Paul’s communications director, explained that a staffer was “live tweeting” a speech by Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano, a fact that “was indicated in earlier tweets.”
“Unfortunately, some dishonest hacks have chosen to take this completely out of context and perpetuate a fake news cycle,” Gor said.
The speech by Napolitano one year ago was part of the Young Leaders for Freedom lecture series hosted by Paul.
‘Republicans are getting what they want’
A blogger for the Daily Kos posted the tweet Wednesday, after the shooting, with the comment: “I think this tweet will be deemed as not aging well.” Vox Media co-founder Markos Moulitsas tweeted “Republicans are getting what they want” and Democratic operative Jamed Devine, after retweeting the Paul campaign tweet, said the shooter “used his Second Amendment remedies.”
The “fact-check” website Snopes addressed the issue, acknowledging in its subhead: “A genuine tweet posted by the Kentucky senator was circulated out of context after lawmaker Steve Scalise was shot in Virginia.”
Among other places, the attribution to Paul turned up in a syndicated column by Bill Press published by WND, which ran a correction after the error was discovered.
In his column, after citing the tweet, Press writes: “One can only hope the good senator had second thoughts about that kind of incendiary rhetoric when he himself was one of those shot at on the Alexandria ballfield.”
The line remains in the corrected version of his column.
Press told WND in an email that as with “many other journalists,” he first saw the tweet yesterday and included mention of it in his column.
“As soon as I learned this morning that it supposedly quotes Andrew Napolitano of Fox News, I immediately wrote a correction — which was circulated to all of their subscribers by Tribune Content Agency,” he said.
Press, however, argued that the tweet was sent by Paul’s campaign, under his name, and asked: “Why would he tweet out Napolitano’s words if he did not agree with them?”
“If the senator himself disagreed with what some staffer tweeted out, why didn’t he denounce it? And why has it remained up on Senator Paul’s Twitter account for over a year?” he asked.
“If anybody’s responsible for promulgating ‘fake news,’ it’s Senator Paul and his staff,” Press told WND.
Gor emphasized that the quote was taken out of context — used by opponents of Paul to charge him with incitement — and the spokesman said, regarding the right to bear arms, “it is well known that Senator Paul is a firm believer and supporter of the Second Amendment.”
While many on the left have insisted or implied that Second Amendment rights are restricted to hunting and possibly personal defense, many conservatives, and libertarians such as Napolitano, have argued the Founders’ intent was to ensure that the people, as sovereign governors, could defend the republic and its Constitution from tyrants who violate its protections of their inalienable rights.
In a column for the Washington Times in 2013, Napolitano also made references to hunting and tyrants.
He wrote that the right of the people to keep and bear arms “is an extension of the natural right to self-defense and a hallmark of personal sovereignty.”
“It is specifically insulated from governmental interference by the Constitution and has historically been the linchpin of resistance to tyranny,” Napolitano said.
Further, he asserted the “historical reality of the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not that it protects the right to shoot deer.”
“It protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, with the same instruments they would use upon us,” Napolitano said. “If the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had had the firepower and ammunition that the Nazis had, some of Poland might have stayed free and more persons would have survived the Holocaust.”