PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island state lawmaker is drawing criticism for a tweet Monday in which he called a survivor of the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school a “dummy.”
State Rep. Michael Chippendale, R-Foster, responded to a tweet from 19-year-old Emma Gonzalez regarding the deadly shooting at a Nashville Waffle House over the weekend.
Gonzalez suggested that since a civilian was able to wrestle the gun away from the shooter, there’s no need to arm school teachers or resource officers. In his response, Chippendale said, “But if he DID have a gun – the police still wouldn’t be searching for the gunman, and the entire region wouldn’t be on lockdown… dummy.”
The shooting suspect, 29-year-old Travis Reinking, was arrested several hours later.
Chippendale had not responded to a request for comment as of early Monday evening, but elected leaders on both sides of the aisle are urging him to apologize.
The tweet, which has since been deleted, was posted on the same day as the inaugural meeting of Rhode Island’s new gun safety working group, which was formed by Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo in the wake of the Parkland shooting that left 17 people dead.
“To call her a dummy is disrespectful,” Raimondo said Monday. “I don’t want my kids talking like that, there’s no place for that in a civic debate and it’s rude and unfair.”
“It’s unfortunate that Rep. Chippendale, who used to be the NRA lobbyist in Rhode Island, is spending time tweeting something kind of hateful towards a young woman instead of being here at this meeting,” said Linda Finn, a former Democratic state representative who is now president of the R.I. Coalition Against Gun Violence.
Chippendale is also a co-chair of Republican Cranston Mayor Allan Fung’s gubernatorial campaign. Andrew Augustus, a spokesman for Fung, said he also thinks the lawmaker should apologize.
“We have talked with Representative Chippendale, and expressed our disappointment in his choice of words,” Augustus said in an email. “As the governor knows from regrettable social media posts by members of her own executive staff, social media presents a whole host of challenges.”
He added that Fung and his aides hope Chippendale will choose his words “better in the future.”