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Tom Coburn jokes about shooting Senate colleagues

Coburn: Congress lacks courage
Tom Coburn

Updated 2:25 p.m. Eastern Time

Sen. Tom Coburn on Wednesday joked about shooting some fellow lawmakers on the Senate floor as he expressed frustration with the way Congress has handled the U.S. economy.

"It's just a good thing I can't pack a gun on the Senate floor," Coburn told an audience, according the Tulsa World. Coburn also called his colleagues "a class of career elitists" and "cowards," though he also described them as good people.

A spokesman for the Oklahoma Republican said "Dr. Coburn was obviously joking and would be happy to personally apologize to any of his colleagues who were offended."

"That said, his frustration with a Congress that has inflicted severe economic damage on the country is well-known and well-founded. Fortunately, actions speak louder than words. Few have done more to try to bridge the divide in Congress and come up with a solution than Dr. Coburn," spokesman John Hart told CBS News Thursday.

Coburn's comment follows the January attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head during a constituent event in Tucson.

After the attack, Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert drafted legislationto allow members of Congress to carry concealed weapons in the District of Columbia - including in the Capitol itself. DC law bars individuals from carrying concealed weapons for self-defense. 

According to the World, Coburn also suggested that senior citizens had better medical care before Medicare was signed into law.

"You can't tell me the system is better now than it was before Medicare," he said.

He reportedly said that while some people got subpar medical care, or none at all, before the program, communities came together to get people the help they needed. While doctors and hospitals were sometimes not paid in those days, he said, they sometimes accepted chickens or baked goods in exchange for their services.

Coburn also said President Obama received "tremendous advantage" from government programs "as an African-American male."

Mr. Obama's "intent is to create dependency because it worked so well for him," Coburn added.

Coburn is no stranger to fiery rhetoric: In June, the conservative senator said members of Congress should be "thrown in jail" for failing to finish a budget.