Republican Rep. Cal Bahr said he’s sorry for “confusion” he caused this weekend after he made comments at a rally that the governor and others criticized as inciting violence against gun control advocates.
Bahr, a second-term member from East Bethel, told people gathered at the Capitol for a 2nd Amendment rally Saturday that gun owners have “had enough.”
“It’s time to start riding herd on the rest of these people that want to take your rights away from you,” Bahr said. “They will not go quietly into the good night. They need to be kicked to the curb and stomped on and run over a few times.”
In a statement Monday, which he also read on the House floor, Bahr said his intent was “misunderstood.”
“In my statement, the meaning of the word ‘they’ referred to two proposed bills, not people. The intended focus of my remarks was on two proposed bills which are designed to strip away the God-given and Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of self-protection. My statement was not in any way directed towards people. Instead, my comments were focused on the legislation that would restrict the rights of Minnesotans,” he wrote in a statement.
“I am sorry for the confusion that has taken place, and I regret not being clear in my comments. I do not condone violence,” he added. “There was no intention of violence in my statement.”
The bills he referred to include one that would establish universal background checks for gun purchases and another that would allow law enforcement to take guns away from people who are deemed a danger to themselves or others. Both are slated for a hearing in the House on Wednesday.
His comments were criticized by members of both parties.
“Encouraging violence endangers our communities and undermines our democracy, particularly when the statement is made by an elected official,” DFL Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement over the weekend. “While heated debates are a healthy part of the political process, this type of language is unacceptable and demands condemnation from people of all political parties.”
Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said the tone of the comments went “too far.”
“In the end, on gun issues, absolutely, they are very passionate issues. When I spoke [at the rally], I talked about doing it in a reasonable way, being responsible, being a good representation for the Second Amendment,” Gazelka said. “It’s, I think, the right approach for any issue, particularly passionate issues. Good people can be on either side of that issue and if they can figure out how have conversations you can figure out how to get things done that you should.”