Republicans Say We Should Just Laugh Off Donald Trump’s Assassination “Joke.” No.

“The in-group for that joke should be tiny. Like his hands.”

Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/ZUMA

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On Tuesday, Donald Trump ignited a firestorm of controversy when he told his supporters at a rally in North Carolina that “Second Amendment people” could block Hillary Clinton and her Supreme Court appointees if she was elected president.

Democrats and gun control advocates were quick to denounce the remarks as an assassination threat. Some Republicans (and even some media outlets) used the rationale that Trump’s comment was okay because it was just a joke.

House Speaker Paul Ryan described it as a “joke gone bad”; headlines ran similar explanations.

In other words: get over it.

But this particular incident might be different from all the other times Republicans have been forced to defend Trump. As Jason P. Steed, an attorney and former English professor from Texas, explained on social media, there’s always a bit of truth to a dangerous punch line, especially when it’s joking about taking up arms against a political rival.

Let Steed’s popular tweetstorm explain:

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