President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is under fire after using a photograph of a hospital bed-ridden survivor of the Parkland, Florida shooting, in an email to solicit donations.
"The nation has turned its attention to the senseless school shooting in Parkland, Florida," the campaign email read, according to CNN. "Trump is taking steps toward banning gun bump stocks and strengthening background checks for gun purchasers." The photo was of Trump and his wife, first lady Melania Trump, who stood over the survivor, 17-year-old Madeleine Wilford, as she laid in bed surrounded by her family.
The email continued, "The president has made his intent very clear: making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority."
The controversy comes amidst Trump's calls for tougher guns measures that have been sharply contradicted by the National Rifle Association, though it's still not clear how far Trump is willing to go on the proposed measures, considering his close ties to the NRA. Meanwhile, several surviving students have been targeted by right-wing conspiracy attacks.
The photograph was used to help the Trump campaign's fundraising efforts, only two weeks after the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 dead. In the aftermath of the incident, surviving students have created a national movement that calls for meaningful gun control measures and a boycott of the NRA, which has long dug its nails into Washington politics.
Trump has also called for encouraging teachers and faculty to arm themselves to supposedly help fight back against an active shooter. This method has long been fancied by Republicans, but even the Parkland shooting exposed the rudimentary flaws in the GOP's logic, as the Broward County Sheriff's department has taken loads of criticism after as many as four officers didn't enter the school during the incident. The department also failed to act on signals about the assailant in the past that could have prevented the shooting from occurring.
But Trump has used tragedies to advance his political efforts in the past, whether in the form of a travel ban that targets Muslims or to call for a border wall.
As word of Trump using the photograph quickly spread around Twitter, plenty weighed in on the bad optics.