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Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie tweeted a picture Saturday of himself and others holding guns around a Christmas tree, four days after four high schoolers were killed in a mass shooting in Michigan.
"Merry Christmas!" he said on Twitter on Saturday, with a photo of him and his family holding guns. "ps. Santa, please bring ammo."
Merry Christmas! 🎄
ps. Santa, please bring ammo. 🎁 pic.twitter.com/NVawULhCNr
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) December 4, 2021
The post received tens of thousands of "likes" as well as nearly 9,000 retweets and about 13,000 comments as of about 3:30 p.m., including criticism of his timing.
"I promise not everyone in Kentucky is an insensitive a------," fellow Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat, responded to the tweet.
"I'm old enough to remember Republicans screaming that it was insensitive to try to protect people from gun violence after a tragedy," he added. "Now they openly rub the murder of children in our faces like they scored a touchdown. Disgraceful."
I promise not everyone in Kentucky is an insensitive asshole. https://t.co/8NjWJpdXIF
— Rep. John Yarmuth (@RepJohnYarmuth) December 4, 2021
Fred Guttenberg, an activist against gun violence, replied with a picture of his daughter, who was killed in the Parkland school shooting in Florida in 2018. "The Michigan school shooter and his family used to take photos like yours as well."
.@RepThomasMassie, since we are sharing family photos, here are mine. 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. pic.twitter.com/MsQWneJXAp
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) December 4, 2021
Jonathan van Norman, a campaign manager for Massie, who is seeking reelection, did not immediately reply to an email Saturday afternoon seeking comment and his voice mailbox was full.
On Monday, Massie personally discussed the controversial photo in an interview on conservative radio host Todd Starnes' show.
He was dismissive of people tying his family photo to the school shooting in Michigan.
"That was the biggest thing in the media that they could use to try and take me down," he said. "I'm going to double down. I'm never going to delete that picture."
Massie, who appears to be holding a light machine gun in the photo, has been a strong supporter of gun rights.
Last January, he spoke to a cheering crowd at the state Capitol building in Frankfort, at one point waving his gun in front of the rallygoers. The Northern Kentucky congressman, who opened his speech by repeating the saying that God created man and Sam Colt — whose company led to the mass production of revolvers — made them equal, said it’s everyone’s God-given right to bear arms.
“Don’t tell me nobody wants to take your guns," he said. "There are people right here in Frankfort who want to take your guns.”
He also condemned red flag laws, saying people would end up in jail over them. And he condemned universal background checks, saying they’re just the government’s way of tracking what kind of guns people have.
He has also made controversial tweets in the past. In August, he posted — and then apparently deleted — a tweet that compared so-called vaccine passports to the identification numbers Nazis tattooed on people imprisoned during the Holocaust.
Reporter Morgan Watkins contributed to this story. Contact Ayana Archie at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @AyanaArchie. Support strong local journalism by subscribing to The Courier Journal.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Thomas Massie tweets gun Christmas card after Michigan school shooting