Iowa State Sen. Joni Ernst, who is running for U.S. Senate, called the UC Santa Barbara shooting an “unfortunate accident.”
During a television primary debate Thursday, a viewer wrote in to ask why Ernst appeared in a pro-gun television ad in the wake of the shooting that claimed seven lives last week, according to Talking Points Memo.
The ad features Ersnt firing a gun at a shooting range.
“Is this really what politics has become in the country?” the viewer asked KCCI-TV.
“I would say to this viewer that what happened in that shooting and that stabbing is an absolute tragedy,” Ernst responded. “However, I remain firm in my commitment to the Second Amendment. I have been endorsed by the NRA in this race and, again, just because of a horrible, horrible tragedy, I don’t believe we should be infringing upon people’s Second Amendment rights.”
When asked if she would change the ad in light of the events in Santa Barbara she said no.
“I would not — no,” she said. “This unfortunate accident happened after the ad, but it does highlight that I want to get rid of, repeal, and replace [Democratic opponent Rep.] Bruce Braley’s Obamacare. And it also shows that I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. That is a fundamental right.”
An Ernst spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement that she does believe the shooting is more than just an accident.
"As she said when she first answered the question, Joni believes that this was a terrible tragedy," spokesman Derek Flowers said. "It's outrageous that Democrats are politicizing and playing gotcha politics with this tragedy."
Progressive Democratic candidate Dave O’Brien responded to the comment on Twitter by sharing his ad titled "Dave O'Brien Won't Do That."
“@JoniErnst I won't dismiss a terrible tragedy as an ‘accident’ either,” he tweeted.