Image copyright CNN Image caption Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, pictured in 2018, was one of five Republicans to post with guns
At least four members of Congress have posted Christmas greetings with guns this year – in what critics have described as a dangerous message.
The debate highlights a longstanding tension between the elected officials and the people who elect them, who can use gun laws as a wedge to bring about change.
“That is crazy,” Rep. Peter King, the New York Republican, said when informed of the posts.
A conversation that touches many Americans
“It is absolutely crazy, the issue of gun violence is extremely important. There are so many things going on and you just never know,” he told CNN.
Congressman Paul Gosar posted images with a .22-caliber hunting rifle with its scope lowered, following a shooting on 11 December.
“A fine Christmas present to myself. Grateful for this sport. @Sierra Club,” he said.
The photo was accompanied by the text: “With the help of our brave first responders, #NewMexico dodged one last bullet.”
The NRA also came under fire, with some critics accusing it of supporting the posts, others alleging that the gun lobby purposely pointed to the image of guns in a misleading way.
The Washington Post said the organisation “was promoting the image of guns on an official Twitter account while trying to protect itself from criticism”.
‘The apperance of weapons sends a terrible message’
In late December, five Republican congressmen posted links to gun-rights advocate Charles C Harwood’s blog post titled “TSA Has a Clean Mess for the Holidays”.
They used Harwood’s image of holiday-themed guns.
“The way you start that conversation in your community… certainly the NRA had a role in this, particularly with where the feelings are right now,” said Mr King.
New Hampshire’s Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte was the first to post the image.
“Christmas greetings with my firearm and son Peyton today,” Ms Ayotte said.
Since the shootings in Las Vegas in October, Ms Ayotte has co-sponsored a bipartisan bill to increase background checks for private sales of firearms and semi-automatic weapons.
Image caption Rep. Michael Burgess posted a link to a photo of an AR-15 as a Christmas card
In October, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen took out a newspaper ad, titled “Appreciate your gun,” to call on American citizens to thank their families for the holiday they had with them.
In her text for the photo of a Christmas card, the 75-year-old congresswoman wrote: “I really appreciate the work you’re doing to protect our Second Amendment.
“As your Representative, I’m asking the US Congress to immediately pass sweeping legislation to end gun violence. Thank you for being a gun owner.”
On 19 December, she posted a link to a photo of an AR-15, with her caption: “I am grateful to all my constituents who cherish their gun.”
Image caption Representative Sean Duffy tweeted a Christmas card on a rifle
Just a week later, Representative Sean Duffy posted a Christmas card with a rifle.
A former corporate lawyer, Mr Duffy is serving his first term as a congressman in Wisconsin.
He previously said on Fox News that he “believes he should have the right to protect his family”.
“And guns do allow people to do a lot of things that, if you aren’t in the right arms, you would wish that you could,” he added.
First lady Melania Trump and her husband Donald said this week that they were working on a new initiative to protect children from gun violence.