When Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Utah, logged onto his Twitter account Friday morning, he found that a big-name actress and people nationwide were calling for his arrest and resignation.
“I was shocked,” he says. But then he quickly realized they were mistaking him for Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain — who has a remotely similar twitter handle: @BriscoeCain, as opposed to @RepBriscoe.
“First, I thought, ‘Oh crap, people don’t know who I am — and I’m going to get ugly calls all day,” he says. “Then I thought, ‘This could be fun.’” And he set out with some light-hearted tweets to send a quick message to the world that he is not that Texas Republican.
As background, Cain of Texas wrote a controversial tweet after presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said during a debate Thursday, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore."
Cain responded by tweeting, “My AR is ready for you.”
Twitter took the comment down, interpreting it as a threat of violence. O’Rourke’s campaign also planned to report the tweet to the FBI, according to CNN, as federal law bans threatening major presidential candidates.
Cain of Texas quickly became a target of online venom, as did Briscoe of Utah — by accident.
An account for Mia Farrow — whom Briscoe figures really is for the famous actress based on its photo and defense of fellow liberal O’Rourke — tweeted in reference to the controversy: “@RepBriscoe resign.”
The Utah Briscoe replied, “@MiaFarrow I’m OK with @BriscoeCain resigning. For the record he’s a Texas Republican. Joel Briscoe is a Utah Democrat who runs gun control bills. Please don’t confuse @RepBriscoe with him.”
Indeed, Briscoe ran a bill earlier this year attempting to restore the gun-free zone around Utah schools. It quickly was rejected by Republican colleagues, who make up a supermajority in the state Legislature.
Katya Rodan tweeted that @RepBriscoe should be arrested, and “shouldn’t be in the streets.”
To a San Diego activist with the twitter handle @Morrei who also told Briscoe to resign, he replied, “I believe you want the Texas Republican who threatened Beto to resign. That would not be me. Different party. Different state. Different attitude towards guns.”
Briscoe said his quick responses seemed to stop additional attacks using his twitter handle.
Biscoe is forgiving about the mistakes.
“I’ve done the same thing,” and put the wrong handle for people in tweets. “I know what it's like to do that, and it’s embarrassing. But come on people, there’s a big difference between @BriscoeCain and @RepBriscoe.”
He jokes about any calls for his resignation, “My official position is they can pry my legislative seat out of my cold dead hands.”
Meantime, he’s already got a new gun control bill in the works for January.