The Associated Press has come under fire in social media for a photo of Ted Cruz at a campaign event in which a drawing of a handgun is pointing directly at the senator’s head.

Taken from the candidate’s right-hand side, the images captured Cruz, who was at a campaign event at CrossRoads Shooting Sports in Johnston, Iowa, in front of a large poster about safe handling procedures for firearms while speaking about the need to defend Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

Social media commentators and conservative websites were quick to point out the apparently hostile images and suggested that it would not have been allowed by editors if another candidate was in the photo.

“How would the world respond if the name on those photos read … Hillary Clinton?” the website Breitbart.com wondered.

Politico quoted Paul Colford, an AP vice president and its director of media relations, saying, “The images were not intended to portray Sen. Cruz in a negative light.” But that denial didn’t stop people from assuming that it was.

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Ben Howe, a contributor to the website RedState, tweeted, “Here’s the thing, @AP: If I Photoshopped Obama over Cruz in that photo you ran, the Secret Service would visit me.”

In various campaign stops over the weekend, Cruz made a handful of comments about guns that struck people as insensitive coming so soon after last week's shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston for which a 21-year-old white supremacist, Dylann Storm Roof, has been charged by police. Among Cruz's comments was, "You know the great thing about the state of Iowa is, I'm pretty sure you all define gun control the same way we do in Texas – hitting what you aim at."

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