Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa said former President Barack Obama was partly to blame for the political climate that led to the shooting of the House majority whip on June 14.
"I do want to put some of this at the feet of Barack Obama," King said on June 14 in an interview with Simon Conway on WHO Iowa radio, reports CNN. "He contributed mightily to dividing us. He focused on our differences rather than our things that unify us. And this is some of the fruits of that labor."
Republican House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was among several people shot on June 14 during training for a congressional baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia. The assumed shooter, James Hodgkinson, who died after being shot by police, was reportedly a supporter of progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
King also blamed society as a whole.
"Our whole society and culture has to come together on this," King said before singling out Obama. "And those are just not platitudes on my part. I'm saying we've got leaders out there that can help pull us together but in the end it traces back to our families, to our fathers, to our mothers, to good examples, to the right things being said around the kitchen table, in the living room, in church and in school. And if the culture is gonna be divided, it's been divided core back to there."
King's comments sparked controversy on social media.
"The party that controls all three branches of government and tells everyone to move on has a love affair with blaming the former president," commented one person on CNN's Facebook post about his remarks. "Idk what it could be."
"LOL, deflect deflect spin spin spin...... how Republican of you," added another. "Are you guys pathologically unable to take responsibility for your messes or what??"
"Maybe if you enacted sensible gun laws this wouldn't have happened," quipped a third.
"But don't blame the sitting president who boasted about 'shooting people on 5th Ave', encouraged followers to attack people at rallies and also wanted 'Second Amendment people' to go after Clinton (mock holding a rifle as he said so)," said a fourth. "Go stick it King."
Others tried to be less partisan in their criticism.
"Just STOP," wrote one. "Be civil and stop blaming because there is PLENTY of blame to be had on both sides. As citizens, we are disgusted. You HAVE to find a way to work together."
"Soooooo can we just stop with the elementary school finger pointing and make it so that folks with violent histories & mental illness can't purchase a firearm?" added another. "Thanks."
"The culture of blaming, vilification and political opportunism is what led to this...so here is more blaming, opportunism and vilification."
"We are in a feedback loop of negativity," commented a third. "People aren't looking for truth they are looking for cheap points in a game."