Two images with the themes of guns and Christmas made headlines over the weekend, one from a congressman and the other from a sheriff's office. Both drew condemnation from critics but defenses from advocates of gun rights. Adding to the controversy: Both came within days of the deadly school shooting in Michigan. Details:
- Image No. 1: The El Paso County Sheriff's Office in Colorado tweeted a jokey image of a Santa look-a-like getting his concealed gun permit. The point was to encourage others to do so. "Did you know the El Paso County Sheriff's Office has issued 49,750 Concealed Handgun Permits with another 2,560 awaiting to be issued?" it asked.
- Reaction: The post quickly generated a blizzard of comments and criticism, reports CBS Denver. Among the thousands of responses: “What is your message to children here?" one person tweeted. On the other side were those urging a message of "Stand your ground."
- Follow-up: The sheriff's office did not remove the post as many demanded but later posted a note: “EPSO intended to highlight our staff in the Concealed Handgun Permit Office, not to be insensitive,” it tweeted. “Santa correlates to the month of December and we thought he would help to recognize our hard working staff.”
- Image No. 2: GOP Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie tweeted a Christmas image of his family, all seven of them brandishing guns. He asked Santa to "please bring ammo."
- Backlash: The father of Parkland, Florida, school shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg posted his own family photos—of his late daughter and her tombstone. “When you see a representative in Congress posting a photo like this, he is telling those who may be in possession of weapons that it is cool, that it is OK, and people end up killed because of that,” Guttenberg tells the Washington Post.
- In defense: Conservative author Candace Owens defended Massie from those accusing him of insensitivity after last week's shooting. "I don’t have the deranged brain of a leftist," she tweeted. "Can somebody explain to me how they worked out that the Michigan school shooting is (Massie's) fault because he shared a picture of him and his family holding legal fire arms?"
- Fellow reps: Fellow Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeted: "I’m pro second amendment, but this isn’t supporting right to keep and bear arms, this is a gun fetish." While fellow Kentucky congressman John Yarmuth, a Democrat, wrote: "I promise not everyone in Kentucky is an insensitive a**hole," per the Hill. Massie doesn't seem to mind the criticism: He's retweeting many of his critics.
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