PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In the wake of the shooting in Arizona, a local congressman is introducing legislation that would expand the law that deals with threats against the President to also cover federal lawmakers.
Congressman Bob Brady, who represents Pennsylvania’s first congressional district, wants to make it illegal to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against any member of congress. “We are out there as much as anyone else, and we intend to criminalize behavior that engages in putting crosshairs or bull’s-eyes on members of Congress and on their district,” Brady said.
Brady said he isn’t pointing at one particular party but those words ‘crosshairs or bull’s-eyes on a district’ aren’t chosen at random. They specifically address a now well-known page on a Sarah Palin political action committee website which included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ district.
Brady feels that should be a federal crime and said they are just trying to protect themselves. “You can’t protect us in the district, it’s just too hard to protect all of us in the district, and I’m not going to hide or not go to my events or not go to public events, just because of this incident,” Brady said.
However, critics of the proposed bill feel the language is just too broad and threatens free speech. They also point out investigators of the Arizona tragedy don’t yet have a motive for the shooting.
Brady said he respects free speech but hopes his legislation could prevent another attack. “I’ve been hollered at all the time, I’m going to get hollered at again, I don’t mind getting hollered at,” Brady said, ”I’m sure that my dear friend Gabby had her controversies through her campaign, I know she did, but she doesn’t deserve to be in a coma.”
Reported by Jim Melwert, KYW Newsradio