(image from Brad Staats' Facebook page)

A Republican candidate for Congress says his Facebook post featuring a photo of his gun and a “Welcome to Tennessee” message for Barack Obama was in no way meant as a threat to the president.

“Good Lord, no,” Brad Staats told The Tennessean in a telephone interview on Monday. “Absolutely not. I’m not one of those that would ever threaten the president. He’s probably got enough of his own stuff to worry about without me.”

Staats, who is challenging five-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District, says the Facebook post was in reference to the recently passed U.N. Small Arms Treaty, an international agreement aimed at keeping firearms from terrorists and rogue regimes. The treaty was opposed by gun-rights advocates who fear it could encroach on civilian gun-ownership rights at home.

“I do want President Obama to know as well as the rest of Congress and everyone else regarding our constitutional rights, don’t tread on America’s constitution,” Staats told WKRN-TV. “I think that your liberties, your life can be defended by the proper instructed use of a handgun.”

The controversy is over a Sept. 27 post Staats made to his “Brad Staats for Congress” page on Facebook. Along with a photo of a black Colt 911 semi-automatic pistol, Staats wrote:

“Many people in Tennessee keep asking me about my opinion on Second Amendment rights. Apparently Tennesseans are part of that crazy crowd that Obama says ‘cling to their religion and guns.’ Well, then I must be part of that crazy crowd. Here is something that I usually have with me. Welcome to Tennessee Mr. Obama, where we appreciate our 2nd Amendment rights and the Constitution that was wisely given to us by our founding fathers.”

Staats told The Tennessean he is a member of the National Rifle Association and carries his gun for protection.

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