The tragedy reignited the contentious debate over gun control reform in the country, and prompted some noteworthy responses from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio)
In a tweet that has now gone viral, the Republican from Ohio singled out the shooter’s gender identity. (Police have said the shooter identified as transgender and was a “biological woman” who used male pronouns on a social media profile, but officials have repeatedly used “she” and “her” while referring to the attacker.)
“If early reports are accurate that a trans shooter targeted a Christian school, there needs to be a lot of soul searching on the extreme left,” Vance wrote.
Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Georgia)
In a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Democratic congresswoman, Rep. Lucy McBath, sharply condemned Congress for its failure to protect children.
“It’s the notion that the days of our children will be better than our own,” she said. “Why then have we not made good on our promise as a nation? A promise that our kids can laugh, and learn, and play in our schools without the fear of a shoot out. Congress has lost its way. We have lost our soul. Our job is to protect our communities and we must do better than this.”
Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tennessee)
The Tennessee lawmaker, who represents the district where the shooting took place, came under fire after a Christmas photo of his family wielding firearms resurfaced on social media. The photo has since been taken down from his social media accounts.
But Ogles later told Sky News he had no regrets about the photo.
“Why would I regret taking a family photo, with my family, and exercising my constitutional rights?”
In a statement after the shooting, Ogles said his family was “devastated” about the shooting and was “sending thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost.”
“As a father of three, I am utterly heartbroken by this senseless act of violence,” he added.
State Rep. Bo Mitchell (D-Nashville)
During an emotional speech on the House floor of the Tennessee General Assembly, State Rep. Bo Mitchell called out his Republican colleagues for not passing meaningful gun reform legislation.
“My children are worth every damn assault rifle in this country,” he said. “Don’t say that you’re pro-life and then vote to put more weapons on the street.”
Mitchell’s microphone was temporarily cut off and the House speaker reprimanded him for allegedly violating standards of the “welcoming and honoring” speaking time.
“I’ll tell you one thing,” Mitchell said loudly. “There’s six people today I can’t welcome and honor anymore into this hallowed house. Y’all just think about those six people and think if your guns are worth it.”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri)
On Tuesday, Sen. Josh Hawley introduced a resolution on the Senate floor to condemn the shooting and classify it as a hate crime against Christians. Authorities are yet to determine a motive for the shooting.
“Today, I will introduce a resolution explicitly condemning this massacre as the hate crime that it is, and calling on this body to condemn hateful rhetoric that leads to violence,” he said. “Hateful rhetoric against religious beliefs, religious institutions, religious communities that leads to violence.”
Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tennessee)
When asked what responsibility the government had in addressing gun violence, Rep. Tim Burchett said, “We’re not going to fix it.”
“Three precious little kids lost their lives, and I believe three adults, I believe, and the shooter of course, lost their life too. So, it’s a horrible, horrible situation. And, we’re not gonna fix it,” he told reporters.
“Criminals are gonna be criminals...and my daddy fought in the Second World War...‘Buddy,’ he said, ‘if somebody wants to take you out, and doesn’t mind losing their life, there’s not a whole heck of a lot you can do about it.’”
Burchett went on to say that a criminal could use a 3D printer to print out a gun, adding, “I don’t think you’re going to stop the gun violence.”
The Nashville police identified the victims of the Covenant School shooting as Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9, William Kinney, 9, Hallie Scruggs, 9, Mike Hill, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Cynthia Peak, 61. Koonce was the Head of School at Covenant and Scruggs was the daughter of the school’s pastor.
A preliminary investigation has revealed that the 28-year-shooter, who authorities have identified as Audrey Hale, legally purchased seven firearms at five local gun stores.
Police said the shooter was suffering from an “emotional disorder” and added that the family was concerned about Hale owning firearms, believing that Hale had only purchased one and subsequently sold it.
A search of the shooter’s home turned up a detailed map of the Covenant School along with what police described as “manifesto” that showed Hale had plans to target other locations.