Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) said Wednesday that many mass shooters “end up being Democrats.”
Tenney made the claim in an interview with radio host Fred Dicker, exactly one week after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
“Obviously there’s a lot of politics in it,” Tenney said. “And it’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats, but the media doesn’t talk about that either.”
Nikolas Cruz, 19, is accused of killing 17 students and staff members, and injuring 14 others in a shooting at a Florida high school last Wednesday.
Photos on Cruz’s social media accounts showed him wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat. Cruz reportedly espoused violently racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic views in a private social media chat group.
Tenney said she was concerned that the response to the Florida shooting would result in legal gun owners being “targeted.”
“I think the government really made a mistake in this area,” she said. “I think that that’s what scares me most. A lot of these legal gun owners are going to be targeted now, and in their demographic they have the least amount of crimes of virtually any demographic.”
It is possible that Tenney's remarks about Democrats were referring to James T. Hodgkinson, the gunman who was killed by authorities after he opened fired on Republican lawmakers practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game last June. Hodgkinson was later revealed to have been a volunteer on the presidential campaign for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war Congress must address the looming debt crisis MORE (I-Vt.).
Tenney later defended her remarks as standing up "for law-abiding citizens who are smeared by anti-gun liberal elitists."
"I am fed up with the media and liberals attempting to politicize tragedies and demonize law-abiding gun owners and conservative Americans every time there is a horrible tragedy," she said in a statement. "While we know the perpetrators of these atrocities have a wide variety of political views, my comments are in response to a question about the failure to prosecute illegal gun crime."
Tenney’s Democratic challenger, Anthony Brindisi, criticized her radio comments on Twitter, calling on Tenney to apologize for the comments.
“This toxic rhetoric is shameful and a new low even for Ms. Tenney,” Brindisi said on Twitter. “Inserting politics into a national tragedy is beyond the pale & disgusting. She should apologize now to spare our region any more national embarrassment.”
First, @RepTenney said Democrats are un-American. Now this. This toxic rhetoric is shameful and a new low even for Ms. Tenney. Inserting politics into a national tragedy is beyond the pale & disgusting. She should apologize now to spare our region any more national embarrassment. https://t.co/o85LNfoufP— Anthony Brindisi (@ABrindisiNY) February 21, 2018
A spokesman for the House Democrats' campaign arm also criticized Tenney’s comments, saying they are “unhinged, shameful and disgusting.”
-Updated 7:14 p.m.