Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer, left, stood by his criticism of Rep. Ron Paul on Thursday, telling Marine Corps Times the former lawmaker should apologize for controversial comments about a famous Navy SEAL sniper who was shot to death. (Sgt. James Shea / Marine Corps and Ross D. Frankli)
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Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer stood by his criticism of former Rep. Ron Paul on Thursday, telling Marine Corps Times the former lawmaker should apologize for controversial comments about a famous Navy SEAL sniper who was shot to death.
Chris Kyle, the bestselling author of "American Sniper," and his friend Chad Littlefield were killed at a gun range on Saturday in Texas by former Marine Cpl. Eddie Ray Routh, authorities allege. Routh had been struggling with post-traumatic stress and was invited by Kyle to join him on the range as a form of therapy, police said.
The shootings prompted Paul, a Republican congressman until recently, to say on Twitter that Kyle's death "seems to confirm that ‘he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.' Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn't make sense."
Meyer, a scout sniper who received the nation's top valor award in 2011, fired back in two tweets of his own.
"Hey @ronpaul have you lost you [sic] mind? That sword protected your freedom. Guess since I live by it I deserve to get murdered as well? #wow," Meyer said.
"Let me remind you @ronpaul Chris Kyle is an American hero to not only myself but to America #RIPCK," Meyer said in a follow-up message.
The exchange has drawn national media attention in the past few days. Paul, a former presidential candidate, released a statement after a public outcry saying he recognized the killing of Kyle was a "tragic and sad event." He didn't apologize for his comments, however.
"My condolences and prayers go out to Mr. Kyle's family," Paul said. "Unconstitutional and unnecessary wars have endless and unintended consequences. A policy of non-violence as Christ preached, would have prevented this and similar tragedies."
In an interview with Marine Corps Times, Meyer said Thursday that he stood by his comments.
"It was something that needed to be said, you know what I mean?" he said. "It's a tragic event that happened to Chris Kyle, but it amplifies it even more when you have someone who represents our country come out and make a statement like that about someone who served honorably."
Individuals like Kyle "were just out doing their jobs," Meyer said. He declined to speculate on the motivation for Paul's comments, but said they seemed to be "justifying the murder of Chris Kyle."
"This is a man who wanted to be our commander in chief?" Meyer asked.
Meyer, who received the Medal of Honor for heroism in eastern Afghanistan in 2009, said he'd met Kyle several times, including at the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas last month.
"He was a humble guy, and he's got a great reputation," Meyer said of Kyle.
In an opinion piece distributed Wednesday, Meyer said Paul's tweet was "insane and further demonstrates to the rest of the country what seems now obvious: Washington is the problem. Ron Paul is the problem. People going off half-cocked and treating veterans with contempt are the problem."
Meyer wrote that some recent combat veterans struggle to make sense of their experience and newfound realities, but they live each day for fellow service members and are tightly connected by shared sacrifices.
"While Chris Kyle is no longer here to defend himself, we are," Meyer wrote. "And we are happy to ask Rep. Paul: ‘Sir, have you lost your mind?'"