U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert drew criticism Tuesday after the Silt Republican sent a fundraising email Monday as a mass shooting unfolded at a Boulder supermarket, asking supporters for campaign donations to help keep "radical liberals" from taking guns away from law-abiding Americans.
"I will fight this new attack on our sacred rights with everything I have," Boebert said in the fundraising email, which was obtained by Colorado Politics. According to a time-stamp on the email, it was sent by her re-election campaign at around 5 p.m. Tuesday, roughly two hours after police surrounded a Boulder King Soopers following reports of an active shooter at the store.
Hours later, authorities said 10 people had been killed at the Boulder King Soopers and a suspect was in custody.
Boebert, the owner of Shooters Grill, a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, has made her unyielding defense of the Second Amendment and fondness for firearms — including the kind of semi-automatic rifle authorities say was wielded by the alleged Boulder gunman — central to her political identity.
She opened the fundraising mail with a reference to the headline-making 2019 exchange with Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke that helped propel the first-time candidate to an upset congressional win.
"I told Beto 'HELL NO' to taking our guns," the email read. "Now we need to tell Joe Biden."
After asking supporters to "pitch in" various amounts, Boebert continued: "They want to defund our police. Then they want to take our guns. What do we think comes next? We cannot lose this fight."
An hour before sending the fundraising email, Boebert tweeted: "As we continue to hear the news coming out of Boulder. I'm praying for the police, first responders, and those affected by this tragedy. May God be with us as we make sense of this senseless violence, and may we unify and not divide during this time."
Boebert's campaign didn't respond to an inquiry from Colorado Politics about the content or timing of the fundraising email, which was posted online Monday night by journalist David Gura.
The reaction on social media to Boebert's appeal for campaign cash was harsh.
"You sent a fundraising email exploiting the tragedy two hours after it happened you hypocritical ghoul," tweeted Ian Silverii, the executive director of liberal ProgressNow Colorado, replying to Boebert on Twitter.
"Boebert is fundraising on FREEDOM TO OWN GUNS," tweeted Linda Zagraniczny. "No character and no morals and no remorse and no scruples."
"Already fundraising off of this tragedy," wrote Twitter user ced25, who urged people who were "sick of this" to follow one of the Democrats already lining up to challenge Boebert in next year's election."
Tuesday morning, after authorities identified the suspect in the rampage and released the names of the victims, Boebert issued a lengthy statement saying that she "refused" to use the massacre to "advance a political agenda," though she claimed that some already were.
"I will not blame society at large for the sick actions of one man and I will not allow lawbreakers to dictate the rights of law-abiding citizens," Boebert said.
Later Tuesday, she ripped President Joe Biden for "wast[ing] no time politicizing the attack in Boulder" by calling for Congress to pass bills expanding background checks on firearms purchasers and reinstating a ban on assault rifles that expired in 2004.
A co-chair of the House Second Amendment Caucus, Boebert hasn't been shy about her agenda, from appearing at a rally to overturn Colorado's red flag law the day she announced her campaign, to posting a combative campaign video declaring she planned to carry a handgun while walking around in Washington, D.C.