Did Matt Gaetz Call for Use of 'Second Amendment' Against Silicon Valley?

Congressman Matt Gaetz was criticized on Thursday after a misleading clip on social media appeared to show him calling on "America First" supporters to use the Second Amendment against Silicon Valley employees during a speech on cancel culture.

The Florida Republican actually told an "America First" rally in Dalton, Georgia, that Big Tech firms were "the internet's hall monitors," and said they were trying to "suppress" conservatives as he called on the movement to use the First Amendment to speak and assemble.

He later made a separate point about the Second Amendment and a Twitter user edited the speech to make it look like Gaetz was calling on people to shoot Silicon Valley employees. The clip went viral.

The GOP lawmaker in fact said: "Let us use the Constitution to strengthen our argument, and our movement. We have a First Amendment right to speak and assemble, and we better use it.

"The internet's hall monitors out in Silicon Valley, they think they can suppress us, discourage us. Maybe if you're just a little less patriotic, maybe if you just conform to their way of thinking a little more, then you will be allowed to participate in the digital world?

"Well, you know what? Silicon Valley can't cancel this movement, or this rally, or this congressman."

He then added separately: " We have a Second Amendment in this country, and I think we have an obligation to use it. The Second Amendment—this is a little history for all the fake news media—the Second Amendment is not about hunting, it's not about recreation, it's not about sports.

"The Second Amendment is about maintaining, within the citizenry, the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government, if that becomes necessary.

"I hope it never does, but it sure is important to recognize the founding principles of this nation, and to make sure that they are fully understood."

A number of verified Twitter users shared the misleading clip of Gaetz's speech, which implied that he was calling on his supporters to bear arms against Silicon Valley staff.

The clip cut out Gaetz's reference to the First Amendment, which makes it clear he is not calling on supporters to shoot Silicon Valley employees, but instead to simply exercise their rights to freedom of speech and assembly.

The video has gone viral and been viewed more than 1 million times after being shared by users, lawmakers and media outlets including the MailOnline and Mediaite.

Reacting to the edited clip of the speech, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said Gaetz's remarks were "not speech protected by the first amendment," and added that it went "beyond yelling fire in a theater."

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) called on House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to boot out Gaetz from the House Judiciary Committee as he accused the congressman of "urging people to shoot Silicon Valley employees."

Newsweek contacted Gaetz's office for further comment on his speech.

Gaetz is facing a federal investigation into allegations that he sexually trafficked an underage girl. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and claimed in a March 30 statement that he was being extorted by an ex-Justice Department official.

Rep. Matt Gaetz in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) arrives for a House Republican conference meeting in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on May 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images