Legislator Apologizes for Timing of Boston “Liberals” Tweet

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A tweet on Friday (April 19) from an Arkansas legislator weighing in on the Boston Marathon bombings is generating national news.

In the tweet sent Friday morning, state Rep. Nate Bell, R-Mena, says he wonders "how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine."

The online news site Huffington Post, in a story by Lisa Miller, called tweet "insensitive."

"The tweet comes after gun legislation failed in the Senate, when measures to improve background checks and ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines all failed," Miller wrote.

On a campaign Facebook page, not his personal page, Bell posted a response later Friday saying he wanted to apologize to the people of Boston and Massachusetts "for the poor timing of my tweet earlier this morning."

"As a staunch and unwavering supporter of the individual right to self defense, I expressed my point of view without thinking of its effect on those still in time of crisis," he wrote. "In hindsight, given the ongoing tragedy that is still unfolding, I regret the poor choice of timing. Please know that my thoughts and prayers were with the people of Boston overnight and will continue as they recover from this tragedy."

Before that post went up, House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, responded to Bell's tweet at about noon on Friday by issuing the following statement:

“On behalf of the Arkansas House of Representatives and the state of Arkansas, I want to extend my deepest apologies to the people of the City of Boston and the state of Massachusetts for the inappropriate and insensitive comment made this morning by an Arkansas House member. I can assure the people of Boston and the people of Massachusetts that Arkansans have them in their thoughts and prayers during this tragic time.”

In addition, House Minority Leader Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, posted the following statement on his Facebook page:

"Rep. Bell's comments regarding the unfolding terror in Boston are tasteless and uncaring. A proud and patriotic city has endured heartbreak since Monday's lethal bombings at the Boston Marathon, and brave men and women are at this very moment hunting down a dangerous suspect they believe to be responsible for those attacks as well as last night's murder of Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer Sean Collier and the shooting of Richard H. Donohue, Jr., a member of the city's transit system police force.

"The people of Boston are not cowards," Leding said. "They are patriots. No one, including Rep. Bell, should ever infer that the American people are anything other than courageous, and the only words we should be offering to the people of Boston are those of support and of prayer.

"I can't speak for them, but I would imagine every other member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, the Arkansas Senate, and Arkansans everywhere find Rep. Bell's comments to be as reprehensible as I do," Leding added. "Boston is a city of patriots, and all Arkansans should stand with them today."

The Arkansas House Republican Caucus issued a statement, quoting House GOP Leader Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, and saying Bell's remarks don't reflect their position.

House Republican Leader Bruce Westerman (R-Hot Springs) today issued the following statement regarding the Twitter remarks of Rep. Nate Bell (R-Mena):

"Politics shouldn't be the the focus of the terror attack in Boston, and all Members, political parties, and pundits should remember that," Westerman wrote. "Our focus needs to remain with our fellow Americans in pain and in danger today.

"There is a time to debate the Second Amendment rights guaranteed to our citizens. Now is not the time. As Members, we should remember the bipartisan moment of silence for the victims of Boston the House observed just days ago at the request of myself and the Minority Leader. Politics and posturing about Boston have no place inside the Arkansas House of Representatives."

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