Rep. Andy Ogles, a first-term Republican who represents the Nashville district where a shooter killed six people at a school Monday, faced criticism from gun control advocates and Democrats on Tuesday after a 2021 photo resurfaced showing him and his family posing with firearms in front of the family's Christmas tree.
On Monday, a shooter attacked The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, killing six people, including three children. In a statement Monday, Ogles said he was "devastated" by the shooting.
"We are sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost," Ogles said. "As a father of three, I am utterly heartbroken by this senseless act of violence."
But gun control advocates quickly dug up Ogles' social media history, highlighting a post in which he and his family display heavy weaponry while posing in front of their Christmas tree. “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good," Ogles' caption read.
"How much more bloodshed will it take?" Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, wrote in a tweet highlighting Ogles' photo. "It's. The. Guns."
Fred Guttenberg, a gun control advocate whose 14-year-old child was killed in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in 2018, also denounced Ogles.
"The tragedy of the latest mass shooting is listening to Tennessee politicians who refuse to call it a shooting but who engaged in behavior that caused this to be more likely when they glorify guns," Guttenberg wrote in a tweet that included Ogles' photo.
Asked whether Congress should act in the wake of the mass shooting, Ogles said: "We don't want to jump to any conclusions. There’s still a lot more information about this case that hasn’t been let out to the public.
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"Ultimately I think what this does is highlight some of the mental health issues, the mental health crisis we have in this country that needs to be the real conversation we’re having right now," he continued.
Asked whether he regretted the post, Ogles said, “Why would I regret a photograph with my family exercising my rights to bear arms?”
His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ogles' campaign website portrays him as a champion of the Second Amendment.
"Disarming the people is the most effective way to enslave them, and we must remain vigilant when anyone seeks to erode our civil liberties," the website reads. "The rights of the people to keep and bear arms, protect themselves and their families, and prevent tyrannical rule is a fundamental liberty of our constitutional republic."