UPDATE: Broun has released a statement on the town hall question. (below)
UPDATE 2: A Secret Service spokesman says of the matter, “We’ve taken appropriate investigative steps. At this point we consider the matter closed.”
(CNN) - Rep. Paul Broun, the Georgia Republican who is among President Obama's biggest critics in the House, faced a startling question from a constituent at a town hall Thursday evening: "Who is going to shoot Obama?"
According to the Athens Banner-Herald, the question was the first the congressman faced at the gathering and the comment drew laughter from the crowd. Broun did not exactly denounce the comments, according to the paper.
"The thing is, I know there's a lot of frustration with this president," he said in response. "We're going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we'll elect somebody that's going to be a conservative, limited-government president … who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare."
Threats made against the president can constitute a federal crime, punishable by five years in prison or a $250,000 fine.
Jessica Morris, a spokeswoman for Broun, told the newspaper that the question was "inappropriate" and said the congressman "moved on." Morris was not immediately available for further comment Friday morning.
Broun drew national attention last month when, live tweeting during President Obama's State of the Union Address, wrote among other criticisms, "Mr. President, you don't believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism."
Broun also apologized in 2008 when he likened then-President elect Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.
"You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential," he said told an interviewer at the time.'
Broun later apologized "to anyone who has taken offense at that."
Broun released a statement on the town-hall question Frday:
“Tuesday night at a town hall meeting in Oglethorpe County, Georgia an elderly man asked the abhorrent question, “Who’s going to shoot Obama?” I was stunned by the question and chose not to dignify it with a response; therefore, at that moment I moved on to the next person with a question. After the event, my office took action with the appropriate authorities. I deeply regret that this incident happened at all. Furthermore, I condemn all statements—made in sincerity or jest—that threaten or suggest the use of violence against the President of the United States or any other public official. Such rhetoric cannot and will not be tolerated.”