A South Carolina gun and accessories company is selling semi-automatic rifle components inscribed with “You lie” – a tribute to the infamous words of 2nd District Republican Congressman Joe Wilson when he shouted at President Barack Obama during a congressional speech about national health care reform in the fall of 2009.
“Palmetto State Armory would like to honor our esteemed congressman Joe Wilson with the release of our new ‘You Lie’ AR-15 lower receiver,” reads a portion of the company’s website.
The product “is neither endorsed nor affiliated with Joe Wilson or his campaign,” according to a line of text at the bottom of the page. A picture of Wilson holding a rifle and standing in the company's gun shop appears on the same page. The company offers the components, marked “MULTI to accommodate most builds,” for $99.95 apiece.
“Only 999 of these will be produced, get yours before they are gone!” the website reads.
In the aftermath of a mass shooting at an Arizona political event that left a federal judge dead and Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition, the media has been placing much attention at the intersection of guns and political speech.
A person who answered the phone at Palmetto State Armory referred questions to company president Jamin McCallum, who he said designed the “You lie” component.
“The only reaction I have to the Arizona shooting is sorrow for the victims and their families and a disbelief that a human being could carry out an act like this,” McCallum said in a Jan. 11 email to Free Times. “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. The loss of life is a tragic event and we should do our best to support those who are grieving.”
McCallum did not return emails about how and when the idea for a “You lie” rifle component came up.
Wilson spokesman Neal Patel says the photo of Wilson was taken when the congressman stopped by Palmetto State Armory in August 2010 to thank them for creating jobs and that it was a congressional visit. He said he'd have to check back and see if the component was made before or after the photo was taken.
"If you look at the picture it's not on the actual gun" Patel tells Free Times about the engraving and the gun Wilson is holding in the photograph.
Meanwhile, South Carolina Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn of Columbia said he believes that conservative Nevada candidate Sharron Angle’s suggestion of “Second Amendment remedies” in her unsuccessful campaign against Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid contributed to the killing spree in Arizona.
“It seems like this gentleman was not satisfied with the way the election came out,” Clyburn said of the gunman, identified as Jared Lee Loughner. “There’s no way you cannot make that connection (with Angle’s rhetoric) unless you want to be stupid.”
Former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has also been caught up in the fray after her political action committee used crosshair images that looked liked gun sights on a map of “targeted” congressional Democrats. Giffords was one of them as was former South Carolina 5th District Congressman John Spratt.
Some have accused Democrats and the media of politicizing the tragedy.
“Violent metaphors are all over our culture, in politics and outside of it, and that won’t be changing anytime soon,” wrote Josh Kraushaar in The National Journal. “The political lexicon is awash in gun metaphors -- from campaign committee lists of top 'targets' to political 'showdowns' to 'battleground districts' to challengers ‘playing defense,’ just to name a few. If this were a crime, the political media would be as guilty as anyone.”