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Rep. Suozzi denies GOP claim of 'irresponsible' call to arms

Rep. Thomas Suozzi speaks in Melville on Nov.

Rep. Thomas Suozzi speaks in Melville on Nov. 17, 2017. Credit: Barry Sloan

ALBANY — Democratic Rep. Thomas Suozzi has been accused by the state Republican Party of encouraging a potential armed response against President Donald Trump, an allegation Suozzi denies.

Suozzi, who advocates stricter gun control legislation, met with constituents in Huntington last week. One woman asked what can be done if the president ignored a mandate from Congress, according to the Facebook Live video of part of the meeting.

“I don’t know the answer to the question,” Suozzi said. “It’s really a matter of putting public pressure on the president and making it public and it’s probably about taking it to the courts as well and then you know, is where the Second Amendment comes in, quite frankly, because you know, what if the president was to ignore the courts? What would you do? What would we do?”

A listener then asked, “What’s the Second Amendment?”

“The Second Amendment is the right to bear arms,” Suozzi said. “That’s why we have it.”

“It’s absolutely outrageous and calling it irresponsible doesn’t even do it justice,” said Jessica Proud, spokeswoman for the state Republican Party. “How on earth could he say such a vile thing after one of his own colleagues was shot as a result of perverted political animosity? He owes the president, his family, and frankly the entire nation a very public and heartfelt apology.”

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long said it was probably a slip of the tongue, “but it’s a very serious slip of the tongue.” “It was a clear misquote by him, in all honesty,” Long said. “I think he owes a public clarification, so no one misinterprets what he says.”

Suozzi though his spokeswoman, Kim Devlin, denied any call to violence or armed intimidation.

“Taking a page from such great Americans as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, Congressman Suozzi explained why our founding fathers created the Second amendment as a way for citizens to fight back against a tyrannical government that does not follow the rule of law,” Devlin said Monday. “To suggest his comments meant anything else or that he was advocating for an armed insurrection against the existing president is both irresponsible and ridiculous.”

Suozzi in an interview said he didn’t misspeak. He said he was explaining the powers of opposing a president under the Constitution as he has done to constituents under other presidents. He said in an interview that he wasn’t calling for any armed response against the president, but he said that remains one of the original purposes of a Second Amendment.

“You can’t call for common-sense restrictions on one hand and on the other hand say people should rise up against the president,” said Suozzi’s Democratic primary opponent, Josh Sauberman, a businessman and former United Nations policy analyst.

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