A state senator in Alabama said Monday his call for Republicans to “empty the clip” on the issue of illegal immigration was taken out of context.
At a Republican breakfast in Cullman County, Alabama, last weekend, State Sen. Scott Beason reportedly urged his fellow Republicans to “empty the clip and do what has to be done” to enact stricter immigration laws, the Cullman Times reported.
Beason has since been flooded with angry calls denouncing the remark, which came in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson last month. That tragedy saw 19 people shot and six killed, including a nine-year-old girl, sparking a debate about the use of violent metaphors in American politics.
Beason on Monday told the media the comment was taken out of context, and he did not mean to suggest violence against illegal immigrants.
“No way was I urging anyone to do harm to Hispanics or illegal immigrants,” Beason told the Birmigham News. “I would never do that.”
The first-term senator and veteran of Alabama’s House of Representatives explained he had told a joke about the difference in how Democrats, Republicans and southerners reacted to being held up by a mugger.
“I began telling the story about a family visiting a big city when some guy with a knife or gun jumps out from behind some bushes and comes at them,” Beason said. “The story talks about how a Democrat handles the situation, I think I said the Democrat tells the guy he’ll put together a charity basketball league or something to raise money to help him. The second family, that father [the Republican] has a gun but takes only one shot. The third family, and that father [the southerner] also has a gun, but he empties the clip. He solves the problem.”
In his speech, Beason faulted the state’s Democrats for what he said was a lack of interest in addressing illegal immigration, and suggested that the issue came down to electoral politics.
“Democrats do not want to solve the illegal immigration problem because they know, this is a fact, that when more illegal immigrants move into an area, when their children grow up and get the chance to vote, they vote for Democrats,” he said.
Many commenters at the Cullman Times reacted with hostility to Beason’s remarks.
“Republicans control the Alabama Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, governor’s office, Cullman County Commission and have controlled these for several years, so who really is to blame,” wrote user “alan bolling.”
“The guy should apologize to Congresswoman Giffords, Christina Taylor Green and everyone else who had a clip emptied toward them in Arizona,” user “disapppointed GOP” wrote. “Can’t blow this off as playing to the GOP crowd.”