Rep. Thomas Massie sparked lots of outrage over the weekend when he posted a Christmas photo to Twitter showing him and six family members each carrying a military-style weapon inside the house. “Merry Christmas,” wrote the Kentucky Republican to accompany a photo that shows seven people holding weapons in front of a Christmas tree. “Santa, please bring ammo.” The weapons they are holding resembled an M60 machine gun, AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, and a Thompson submachine gun, according to Reuters.
Massie posted the photo mere days after the deadliest U.S. school shooting this year that left four teenagers dead. The suspected shooter, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley was charged with murder and terrorism while his parents were also detained and charged with involuntary manslaughter for their role in the slayings.
Many were quick to criticize Massie, a staunch guns advocate who represents a solidly Republican district, including fellow lawmakers. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat who is also from Kentucky wrote: “I promise not everyone in Kentucky is an insensitive asshole.” He noted that Republicans used to say it was “insensitive” to talk about gun violence after a tragedy. “Now they openly rub the murder of children in our faces like they scored a touchdown,” Yarmuth wrote.
The father of a victim in the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida also harshly criticized Massie for the photo. “That’s a huge part of the problem,” Manuel Oliver said on CNN. “I don’t know if they’re trying to be ironic, funny, or what, but it’s the worst taste ever.” Oliver, who had gone to CNN on Saturday to talk about his desire to meet with President Joe Biden said the photo “should teach us who should we elect, and not.” Fred Guttenberg replied to Massie’s tweet with a photo of his daughter who was killed in the Parkland shooting. “The Michigan school shooter and his family used to take photos like yours as well,” he wrote. Many others also blasted Massie on social media for his decision to post the photo so soon after a school shooting.
Massie is hardly a stranger to controversy. A day after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Massie tweeted that he and others in Congress were “glad to be armed while barricaded for hours in our offices with our staff.” And last month he retweeted a video of Kyle Rittenhouse’s not-guilty verdict with the caption, “There is hope for this country.”