MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Republican Party deleted a tweet some viewed in poor taste.
The tweet pictured a handgun with ammunition and a magazine. Under the picture, it read "Safety: While you pray for it, I'll be turning mine off."
The tweet was posted a day after a threat shut down the Shorewood School District. It garnered a lot of reaction online, with at least 192 responses on Twitter before the tweet was deleted. The tweet did go up before knowledge of Thursday's California school shooting and before the South Milwaukee High School threat.
But the Milwaukee County Republican Party says it is just a coincidence.
"The first thought I had was confusion," Rick Baas, Communications Director for the Milwaukee County Republican Party said. "It's less than clear. The second thought I had was, it's obviously talking about safety and peace. Do you see it as I could see it as a request for prayer?"
Baas says, as he understands it, different Twitter algorithms and metrics lead to tweets being automatically posted to their page without their knowledge. In fact, the same exact tweet has been posted three different times, in mid-November on their account every other year since 2013.
"Somebody else like in Mongolia, Sacramento, Madison, could have put this up," Baas said. "For all we know, someone opposed to our party put it up there, knowing the language and knowing the tricks to get it re-posted."
Baas doesn't want the focus to be on the tweet itself. He says these conversations are taking away from the bigger issue at hand with guns.
"I can understand how you can read it," Baas said. "It can be read other ways but I don't honestly think this is the problem this country has. Until we start dealing with those simple, hard and true facts that we are responsible for our actions, we're responsible if someone is going to hurt somebody, and we don't do anything. Nobody wants to see these things happen. Absolutely no one. That's why the conversation needs to be about personal responsibility. Individual responsibility. It has nothing to do with a tweet. A tweet doesn't make people do things."
Courtney Beyer, spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin released this statement: "Gun violence is a serious threat to our families and communities. Comments like these from the Republican Party are appalling and out-of-touch with the 80% of Wisconsinites who want their elected leaders to pass commonsense gun safety legislation."