Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) has responded to backlash over a 2021 photo showing the congressman, his wife and kids toting rifles in front of a Christmas tree.
The photo circulated on social media Monday after the freshman congressman offered his “thoughts and prayers” to the families of three children and three adults shot dead at The Covenant School, a Nashville private school in the district he represents.
“Why would I regret a photograph with my family exercising my rights to bear arms?” he reportedly replied.
Amid uproar over Ogles’ statement and the photo on Monday, the 2021 post disappeared from Ogles’ social media. A spokesperson for the congressman didn’t return HuffPost’s request for comment on why it was removed.
Thousands of social media users shared the image, including prominent gun control advocates Fred Guttenberg and Shannon Watts and lawmakers including Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) and Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio).
A 28-year-old was killed by police after fatally shooting three 9-year-old students and three adults at The Covenant School. Authorities said the shooter was wielding a rifle, an assault rifle-style pistol and a handgun, and had legally purchased seven firearms in the years prior to the attack.
Ogles, the former mayor of Maury County, Tennessee, boasts on his House bio that he was recognized as “Tennessee’s most conservative mayor.” He was exposed in February for embellishing parts of his résumé during his congressional campaign, including his college degree and his alleged work fighting international sex trafficking.