WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., whose district includes the site of Monday’s mass shooting in Nashville, received widespread criticism from gun control advocates for a Christmas photo he posted in 2021 of his family posing with guns.
The photo, which remained on the congressman’s Facebook page as of Monday night, shows his wife and two of his three children smiling and holding firearms in front of a Christmas tree.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS! The Ogles Family,” the post reads, adding in quotes: “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”
Gun control advocates resurfaced the photo Monday after a gunman killed three students and three adults at The Covenant School, a private school in Nashville.
The suspect, identified as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, a transgender man, was killed by police. The suspect used two “assault-type” firearms and a handgun, according to police.
“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,” said Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jamie was killed in the Parkland, Florida shooting in 2018. “Tennessee Rep @AndyOgles, is this you with your family?”
Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, whose district includes the site of the 2019 El Paso Walmart shooting that killed 23, shared the photo on Twitter.
“How much more bloodshed will it take?” Escobar wrote. “It’s.The. Guns.”
A spokeswoman for Ogles did not return a message seeking a response.
Ogles, in a statement earlier in the day, said he and his family are “devastated” by the shooting.
“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. Thank you to the brave first responders who have provided support throughout this tragedy.”
Ogles, a conservative freshman congressman elected in 2022, is the former mayor of Maury County, Tennessee, south of Nashville. Tennessee’s 5th congressional district, held by Ogles, was previously represented by Democrat Jim Cooper, who opted not to run for reelection last year after 32 years in Congress.
Cooper served a district made up almost entirely of Democratic-leaning Nashville. But Tennessee Republicans redrew the lines last year to include conservative suburbs and towns around Nashville in a successful bid to add an additional Republican seat in the conservative state.
Ogles has been under fire this year over questions about his educational and career history, including mispresenting his college degree.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.