Rep. Claudia Tenney, an upstate New York Republican who is up for re-election in one of the most competitive congressional districts in America, told a radio host in Albany that Democrats are more prone to be mass shooters.
Speaking to host Fred Dicker on WGDJ radio, Tenney was discussing the shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead when she made the remark.
“It’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats,” Tenney said. “But the media doesn’t talk about that.”
Tenney, who is an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment, was responding to a point made by Dicker that the majority of gun victims come from the inner cities, not in mass shootings.
Tenney said she supports taking a look at the federal background check system and argued that the shooting should not change the dynamics of the debate over gun control in her district which encompasses cities like Utica, Rome and Binghamton.
CNN followed up for clarification from her office and asked specifically what statistics she was referring to, and her campaign later issued a statement.
“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 the 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. I will continue to stand up for law-abiding citizens who are smeared by anti-gun liberal elitists.”
Democrats, who have the Tenney seat high on their list of potential flips, were quick to pounce on her remarks.
“Once again Congresswoman Tenney has demonstrated how completely unfit she is to serve in Congress,” Even Lukaske, a spokesperson from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement. “Tenney’s comments are unhinged, shameful and disgusting, and show why voters will replace her next November.”
Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on Tenney to apologize.
“The last thing we need right now is lawmakers reciting baseless conspiracy theories from dark corners of the Internet. @RepTenney should apologize,” Cuomo said on Twitter.
Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, Tenney’s opponent, said he hopes Tenney “can find the light.”
Brindisi tweeted, “It is very troubling, but our Congresswoman @RepTenney is in a very dark place. Doubling down today on her grotesque comments after the horrific Florida shooting. I hope she can find the light. We all hope.”
In the radio interview, Tenney argued that her commitment to the Second Amendment will be a benefit to her run in a rural, upstate New York district. She pointed out that even her opponent, Brindisi, considers himself a supporter of gun rights.
Brindisi, who holds an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association as a state legislator, which indicates support for gun rights, has yet to propose any significant change to gun laws in the wake of the Parkland Shooting.
Tenney’s 22nd District voted for President Donald Trump by 15 percentage points in 2016. But Brindisi outraised Tenney in 2017’s third and fourth quarters – making Tenney the subject of more GOP grumbling than other New York Republicans who represent more Democratic-leaning districts, including Reps. John Faso, John Katko and Elise Stefanik.
Another example came last week, when she questioned in a radio interview in the wake of Rob Porter’s firing from the White House whether the two previous wives who accused Porter of assaulting them should be believed since charges have not been filed, saying that “it’s so easy to line people up.”
This story has been updated.
CNN’s Eric Bradner and Rob Frehse contributed to this report.