The gun debate in America has always been a heated one, especially after a mass shooting occurs such as the most recent one that took place at Thousand Oaks. On one side the gun control advocates demand measures such as enhanced background checks and bans on assault weapons to diminish the possibility of high casualty shootings reoccurring. On the other side, 2nd Amendment advocates wonder why law-abiding gun owners should bear the brunt of such laws when, in their view, they do not work.

Now, with the Democratic Party due to take over the House next year, “common sense” gun control is back on the agenda.

The proposal to buy back or even confiscate “assault rifles” such as the AR-15 is getting pushback, with some even suggesting that such an attempt would be met with armed resistance. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, is having none of it.

Nuke em! Nuke em! Nuke em!

Swalwell, in a twitter exchange, offered a stark threat to anyone who might resist a gun confiscation scheme, according to Fox News.

The statement has, as it were, blown up in Swalwell’s face.

Many people on social media and the traditional media have expressed astonishment that a sitting member of Congress would threaten the American people with a nuclear strike if they resist having their firearms taken away. Traditionally, threats of nuclear annihilation have been reserved for communist tyrants such as Kim Jong-un and the Iranian mullahs.

The fallout of Swalwell’s threat has been epic

Swalwell has tried to walk back his threat by suggesting that he was just being sarcastic. However, the subject of nuclear war against an American insurgency may not be a fit topic for levity. People still remember the terror of the Cold War, when one single miscalculation might have meant the end of humankind.

The question also arises over whether American servicemen would obey an order to drop a nuclear device on, say, Dallas or Atlanta or wherever gun owners live. Nuclear weapons have not been seriously contemplated for wars against foreign insurgencies, such as Vietnam or, more recently, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Swalwell, whether he knows it or not, has given the NRA, still smarting from the recent midterm elections, a talking point it can use until the end of time. Gun control advocates, who like to think of themselves as sensible, can now be painted as crazy people on the level of General Jack D. Ripper from “Dr. Strangelove.” A government that would even joke about nuking its own people needs to be limited in what it can do. The 2nd Amendment is a crucial part of that limitation.