Carl B. Nett — a Republican candidate for office in Kentucky — suggested Tuesday that a Democrat proud of his F rating from the NRA be killed for it.
But he apologized, so it’s okay.
— Philmonger (@phillipmbailey) March 20, 2018
The threat to assassinate a sitting member of Congress, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Kentucky) should be alarming though not shocking. Rhetoric about the protection of guns has been so inflamed in recent years that the rhetoric from the NRA itself has grown to a menacing fever-pitch.
It seems that Nett realized his error when it occurred to him that his own party had been targeted by violence.
“I recognize that my attempt to be clever was far from clever, particularly in light of politically motivated acts of violence against elected officials – from the shooting of Republican congressman[sic] at a softball practice to the blindside attack on our own Senator, Rand Paul,” tweeted Nett.
Nett in many ways is a product of his party’s political environment. As a Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump regularly incited violence at his rallies during the campaign (and actual assaults followed) and famously said he could murder someone in broad daylight and still win.
Violent rhetoric fills the Republican party, often tied to guns and the NRA. Candidates routinely shoot things in their campaign advertisements to show their support for gun advocates.
And the growing support for gun control even among some conservatives in Congress has only fueled the intense rhetoric threatening anyone who would endanger the political power of the gun lobby. While Nett’s tweet in itself might not be worth the time and attention it’s gotten, as a symptom of the larger debate on gun control it is an important indicator of just how desperate and hostile gun advocacy has become.
The FBI is presently “determining the best course of action” in regards to Nett’s threat on Yarmuth’s life.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.