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Like a ‘Throwing a Match on a Powder Keg’: Trump Tweetstorm Calls for ‘Liberation’ of States, Mentions 2nd Amendment


The morning after calling for the reopening of some states in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump on Friday issued a series of tweets calling for the liberation of various states. The tweets focused on Virginia, Michigan, and Minnesota, with the Virginia tweet explicitly saying “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

The word “liberate” has several definitions. One is “to set at liberty” or to “free” something, especially “from domination by a foreign power.” The other is “to take or take over illegally or unjustly.”


It’s worth noting that “they” (the government) can’t round up your legal firearms during “a major disaster or emergency.” That’s already in federal diaster relief law.

However, Democrats in Virginia have passed strict gun control laws, igniting some outrage there among conservatives. Among the provisions is a so-called “red flag” statute which allows law enforcement to confiscate weapons from people who are a threat to themselves or others.  That part of the law is not too far afield from what President Trump himself suggested after the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting. Law&Crime has analyzed the effectiveness of such laws, which put the onus on imperfect mental health assessments rather than on strict firearm restrictions. Other Republicans have supported the laws because they shift the burden to mental health experts rather than firearms.  Other provisions of the Virginia law include increased background checks and limits on handgun purchases. A full list of the measures is here.

Matthew Gertz of the liberal watchdog group Media Matters For America pointed out that the series of tweets came just minutes after a series of Fox News segments:

For Gertz, it was a nightmare which came true:

Many reactions from the legal community were similarly unfavorable. At least one of them said the tweets were like “throwing a match on a powder keg.”

So-called “Tea Party-style” protests have already occurred across America.

These were far from the only reactions (“Liberate,” “Liberate America,” etc. are trending far and wide at the time of this writing).

[Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images.]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.