Democratic congressman Tom Suozzi is facing criticism after comments he made last week were interpreted as a suggestion of violence against President Donald Trump.
Suozzi, a first-term congressman from New York, made the comments during a town hall in Huntington, New York, on March 12.
After being asked by a constituent about what consequences Trump would face if he broke laws, Suozzi replied that "it's really a matter of putting public pressure on the President and making it public."
"This 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?" Suozzi continued.
A member of the crowd asked what the Second Amendment was, to which Suozzi replied, "The Second Amendment is the right to bear arms. That's why we have it."
The answer was met with chatter and some nervous laughter.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Chris Martin accused Suozzi of suggesting the Second Amendment could be used as a means of opposing Trump.
"When resistance and obstruction don't work out, Tom Suozzi proposes violence. He's completely out of touch," Martin said in a statement to CNN.
A representative for Suozzi defended the comments, stating that "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."
"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," senior adviser Kim Devlin said in a statement.
Suozzi was elected to Congress in November 2016 and began his first term in January 2017. He serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Armed Services Committee and previously served as the mayor of Glen Cove, New York, and as Nassau County Executive.
During the 2016 campaign, then-Republican nominee Trump set off similar controversy with remarks about the right to bear arms that were interpreted by many as a threat of violence against Hillary Clinton.
"Hillary wants to abolish -- essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know," Trump said in August 2016.
At the time, Trump defended his comments, saying he was telling his supporters to use the power of their vote to stop Clinton from appointing justices who could restrict their Second Amendment rights.
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