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Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogles responds to criticism of gun-toting Christmas card

CBS News 3/28/2023 Li Cohen
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Republican Rep. Andy Ogles, who claims he was once recognized as "Tennessee's most conservative mayor," has come under intense criticism in the wake of the mass shooting at a private Christian grade school on Monday. 

The day of the shooting, which left three children and three adults dead, Ogles issued a statement saying he was "heartbroken" and offered his "thoughts and prayers" to the families of the victims. But his response quickly became clouded by a recent Christmas card photo that shows Ogles, his wife and two of their three kids showing off their rifles in front of their Christmas tree. 

The post has since been deleted from his social media profiles, but not before it caused a significant backlash.

Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime Guttenberg was killed in the 2014 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, tweeted out the photo. 

"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," he said. 

Ogles has yet to put out an official statement about the controversy. But on Tuesday he was asked by reporters on camera if he has since had "any regrets" about the photo. 

"Why would I regret a photograph with my family exercising my rights to bear arms?" he responded.

Ogles represents Tennessee's District 5, which includes The Covenant School in Nashville. On his House member website, Ogles says he is a "Middle Tennessee native with deep roots dating back to the founding of our state."  

In 2018, he became the mayor of Maury County, an area just southwest of Nashville. During his adminstration, which ran until last year, he said he was "recognized as Tennessee's most conservative mayor." He began his term in Congress this year. 

He has cosponsored H.R.1271, the "No Retaining Every Gun In a System That Restricts Your Rights Act." The bill, which has only been introduced to the House Judiciary Committee, would amend title 18 of the U.S. Code to stop the government's collection of firearm transaction records of discontinued firearms businesses and to "require the destruction of such already collected records."  

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