Gun-Loving Republicans Offer Condolences After Latest School Shooting

Republican Nashville - Credit: John Amis/AP
Republican Nashville - Credit: John Amis/AP

The GOP has a well-established playbook for the aftermath of a school shooting: thoughts, prayers, and protecting the guns.

On Monday morning, authorities say a woman entered the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, and shot and killed three students and three school staff members. The suspect, identified by officials as a 28-year-old former student of the school, was armed with two assault rifles and a handgun.

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Republican lawmakers from both Tennessee and around the country offered their condolences for the victims and their families, but many of these same lawmakers have been glamorizing high-powered guns and working to ensure they are easily accessible.

Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogles, whose district is home to the Covenant School, issued a statement offering his “thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost.”

“As a father of three, I am utterly heartbroken by this senseless act of violence,” Ogles wrote.

On Ogles’ campaign website, the congressman vows to fight any effort to curtail access to guns. “Disarming the people is the most effective way to enslave them, and we must remain vigilant when anyone seeks to erode our civil liberties,” Ogles wrote. Last year, Ogles released a Christmas card featuring him and his young children brandishing firearms.

Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn wrote that she was “heartbroken” over the shooting, and called for others to “join [her and her husband] in prayer for those affected.”

Blackburn has received more than a million dollars in donations from the National Rifle Association. The senator regularly tweets that the Second Amendment is “non-negotiable” and has repeatedly opposed legislation aimed at implementing gun control measures nationwide, including bipartisan proposals.

Blackburn’s fellow Tennessee senator, Bill Hagarty, maintains a similar position. He wrote on social media that he was “devastated and heartbroken,” while his website warns of a “threat to guns.”“Bill opposes a national gun registry, red flag laws, and universal background checks,” his website reads.

Outside of Tennessee, lawmakers who vehemently oppose measures to curtail the availability of assault weapons in public life offered their condolences to the parents of murdered children, in some cases alongside a call for more firearms in schools.

“How many more children have to be murdered before Democrats will agree to protect children at schools the same way good guys with guns protect the President and others?” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted.

“Children and school staff should always be protected the same way politicians, money, precious stones, and gold are protected, but even more so, by good guys with guns,” she added in a separate post blaming President Biden for mass shootings in schools.

Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert offered prayers to the affected families a day after expressing her opposition to an expansion of red flag laws in a proposed gun control legislation. She promoted a tweet from Rep. Ty Winter (R-Colo.) indicating that “any attempt to restrict [the right to own a weapon] is an infringement.”  (Boebert, too, has released a Christmas card featuring her and her family toting high-powered rifles.)

Texas Senator Ted Cruz tweeted that he and his wife were “praying for the entire Nashville community” in the wake of this “evil atrocity.” Cruz has been a committed opponent of firearm regulation throughout his career. Last year, in the aftermath of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Cruz brushed off pleas from parents to support gun control legislation. Cruz instead blamed anything but guns for the deaths of 19 students and two teachers.

While Republicans remain obstinate in their desire to talk about anything but guns, President Biden is pushing for more stringent firearm regulation. In a statement from the White House on Monday, the president called for Congress to pass his proposed assault weapons ban, and brought attention to the horrific mental health issues experienced by survivors of mass shootings.

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