Republican congressman Thomas Massie has sparked outrage for posting a Christmas photo of his family posing with a trove of firearms, just days after four students were murdered in America’s deadliest school shooting since 2018.
The Kentucky congressman shared the family portrait on Twitter on Saturday, along with the caption: “Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring ammo.”
Mr Massie is seen posing with his wife and members of their family in front of a Christmas tree in a holiday card-style image.
All seven people in the photograph are holding weapons as they beam at the camera.
The Republican faced an instant backlash for his social media post, coming just four days after suspected teenage gunman Ethan Crumbley opened fire at his high school in Michigan.
The 15-year-old sophomore is accused of killing four students – Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17 – and wounding seven others in Tuesday’s deadly attack. He was charged as an adult on 24 counts including four charges of first-degree murder and one count of terrorism.
The teenager’s parents James and Jennifer Crumbley are said to have bought him the firearm as an early Christmas present on Black Friday.
The Crumbleys were arraigned on charges of involuntary manslaughter on Saturday morning.
Less than four hours later, Mr Massie posted his family photo on Twitter and was instantly condemned by both gun control activists and gun owners alike.
Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin Oliver was among the 17 victims murdered in the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, told CNN the post should send a message about who the country should and should not elect.
“That is a huge part of the problem. We have some elected leaders like this one,” he said.
“I don’t know if he’s trying to be ironic, funny or what… This is also something that should teach us who we should elect and not.”
Mr Oliver is demanding a meeting with President Joe Biden following the latest school shooting as calls mount for greater gun control in the wake of a string of mass shootings over the last year.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was also killed in the Parkland school shooting, also hit out at Mr Massie and shared photos of his late daughter and her gravestone on Twitter.
“@RepThomasMassie, since we are sharing family photos, here are mine,” he tweeted.
“One is the last photo that I ever took of Jaime, the other is where she is buried because of the Parkland school shooting.
“The Michigan school shooter and his family used to take photos like yours as well.”
Another person called Beks simply posted a photo of the four victims of Tuesday’s attack, writing: “Their parents would disagree.”
Several gun owners also slammed Mr Massie for what they described as “gun fetishism”.
“I am a gun owner but I do not understand gun fetishism @RepThomasMassie. It seems especially ethically demented this week,” tweeted one social media user named Steve Metz.
Last week, Mr Massie celebrated the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse during his homicide trial for shooting dead two men and wounding a third in a night of unrest in Kenosha last summer.
He was also one of just 21 House Republicans who voted against giving the Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol police officers who defended the building from attack from Donald Trump supporters in the January 6 insurrection.
The congressman said in the aftermath of the riot that he was “glad to be armed while barricaded for hours in our offices with our staff”.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies