Updated 8:13 p.m. | Many mass murders are perpetrated by Democrats, New York Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney said Wednesday in a radio discussion on gun control following the recent mass shooting at a Florida high school.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of politics in it,” the congresswoman told the “Focus on the State Capitol” podcast hosted by Fred Dicker. “And it’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats, but we don’t want to, the media doesn’t talk about that either.”
Tenney and Dicker were discussing last week’s shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people. The school shooting has sparked student activism and renewed calls for stricter gun control laws.
“A lot of these legal gun owners are being targeted now,” Tenney said. “And in their demographic, they have the least amount of crimes of virtually any other demographic.”
Cruz legally purchased the AR-15-style rifle he used in last week’s shooting.
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Tenney’s comments were swiftly condemned by Democrats, including her likely opponent in November: state Rep. Anthony Brindisi.
“This toxic rhetoric is shameful coming from an elected official and is a new low even for Claudia Tenney,” Brindisi said in a statement. “She has disrespected the office she holds. Inserting politics into a national tragedy is beyond the pale and disgusting. She should apologize immediately to spare our region any more national embarrassment.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee circulated Tenney’s comments in a press release Wednesday evening. DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske called the comments “unhinged, shameful and disgusting.”
Tenney’s campaign later clarified that her comments were made “in response to a question about the failure to prosecute illegal gun crime,” while adding that “we know the perpetrators of these atrocities have a wide variety of political views.”
“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,” Tenney said in a statement. “I will continue to stand up for law-abiding citizens who are smeared by anti-gun liberal elitists.”
The first-term congresswoman is considered one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents this year even though President Donald Trump carried her upstate New York district by 14 points.
This is not the first time Tenney’s comments have drawn Democratic criticism.
Democrats condemned her comments last week about former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who resigned amid allegations of domestic abuse. Tenney said in a WUTQ radio interview that while she wasn’t saying Porter was innocent, “we don’t know.” Tenney referenced cases she had seen as a divorce lawyer that involved “terrible abuse,” but also cases in which a wife would injure herself and blame the ex-husband.
Brindisi and the DCCC also pointed out that earlier this month Tenney told CNN that Democrats who did not applaud Trump during his State of the Union address were “un-American” and “don’t love our country.”
Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.