Washington: Andrew Ogles, a Republican who represents the Nashville district where the latest US school shooting took place, said on Monday in a statement that he was “utterly heartbroken” by the shooting there that left six people dead, including three children.
Gun-control advocates and Democrats highlighted another post from Ogles – a 2021 Christmas photo of his family posing with firearms.
After news of the shooting broke, Ogles said he and his family were “devastated by the tragedy that took place at The Covenant School in Nashville this morning”.
“We are sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost,” he said. “As a father of three, I am utterly heartbroken by this senseless act of violence. I am closely monitoring the situation and working with local officials.”
The 2021 photo, which Ogles shared on Facebook, showed him, his wife and two of his three children holding weapons and smiling in front of a Christmas tree.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS!” Ogles wrote, adding a line that is often – and dubiously – credited to George Washington: “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”
Children from The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, are moved outside after the shooting.Credit:AP
Ogles is a strong proponent of the Second Amendment and gun ownership. On his campaign website, he says: “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 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”.
Ogles’s critics shared the congressman’s statement about the shooting along with the Christmas photo.
“How much more bloodshed will it take?” Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from Texas, wrote in a tweet featuring Ogles’s photo. “It’s. The. Guns.”
Fred Guttenberg, who advocates for gun control after his 14-year-daughter, Jaime, was killed in the Parkland school shooting in 2018, said the tragedy “is listening to Tennessee politicians who refuse to call it a shooting but who engaged in behaviour that caused this to be more likely when they glorify guns”.
Ogles, a freshman congressman, represents Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District, which includes the school where a 28-year-old armed with two rifles and a handgun killed at least three children and three adults on Monday (Tuesday AEDT). The shooter had been a student, authorities said. The shooter was also dead after being “engaged” by police.
Ogles’s office had no immediate response to the criticism.
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