AOC and GOP Rep. Crenshaw duel online over background checks

'You are a member of Congress," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "Why are you 'lending' guns to people unsupervised who can't pass a basic background check?"
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.AP; AFP - Getty Images file

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By Dareh Gregorian

Two of the most outspoken freshmen representatives tangled on Twitter on Wednesday over universal background checks.

The tussle began when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.N.Y., slammed Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, for claiming that universal background checks would prevent him from lending his gun to friends who needed it for self-defense.

"You are a member of Congress," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted at Crenshaw. "Why are you 'lending' guns to people unsupervised who can’t pass a basic background check? The people you’re giving a gun to have likely abused their spouse or have a violent criminal record, & you may not know it. Why on earth would you do that?"

Crenshaw shot back, "Just so I’m clear: you think my friends are domestic abusers/criminals? Seriously that’s your argument? That they can’t pass a background check? Wrong. People lend guns to friends, esp if they don’t own a gun, for self-defense and hunting purposes. This is America outside NYC."

Ocasio-Cortez responded, "You said w/ universal background checks, you wouldn’t be able to 'lend' guns to friends. If a background check would be a problem, then you shouldn’t 'lend' a gun," she said, adding that New York "is one of the safest states in the country when it comes to guns."

She then added that Crenshaw wouldn't necessarily know if any of his friends were domestic abusers.

"This idea of 'I know the guy, there’s no way he beats his wife' as the way we keep guns out of the hands of abusers is ridiculous. Any person who has been abused, assaulted, etc knows that abusers often present as 'upstanding,'" she wrote.

Most domestic abuse "is hidden. You could know an abuser & have no clue. I’ve had friends come out to me as victims. It’s not obvious."

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas listens as during a House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill on March 12, 2019.Susan Walsh / AP file

Crenshaw's initial tweet referred to a local news story about a Houston woman who shot a man who'd tried to steal her purse.

"Situations like this story are why we protect the 2nd Amendment," he wrote. "Side note: With universal background checks, I wouldn't be able to met friends borrow my handgun when they travel alone like this. We would make felons out of people for just defending themselves."

The pair have tussled on Twitter before, including in February, when Crenshaw mocked Ocasio-Cortez's tax proposal.

Crenshaw on Tuesday lashed out at another Democrat in the House, Rep. Adam Schiff, who had pointed out that the gunman in Saturday's deadly mass shooting in Texas had gotten his weapon in a private sale that didn't require a background check. Law enforcement sources told NBC News that the gunman failed a background check in 2014 over mental health issues.

"This is the 1st mass shooting where a universal background check *possibly* would have prevented him from having a gun, if and only if, they decided to self-enforce that law," Crenshaw wrote. "Guys who shoot cops tend not to self-enforce laws. And we don’t make sweeping policy on one situation."