(Huffington Post) One day after the worst mass shooting in American history, Tennessee State Rep. Andy Holt (R) said he plans to give away two AR-15 assault rifles — the same kind of weapon used in the massacre — as a “door prize” at an upcoming political fundraiser.
Holt, a self-described conservative Christian, had announced last week that he would give away one AR-15 at “Hogfest,” a barbeque fundraiser on his farm that has a petting zoo and hay rides. But when reporters asked him after the Orlando, Florida, shooting on Sunday whether he still planned to give away the assault weapon, he told reporters that he now wants to give away two instead of one.
“I’m furious that I get phone calls from the media asking me if I’m still going to give away an AR-15 at our HogFest, rather than asking me how many extra firearms I’ll be handing out to ensure people can protect themselves,” Holt wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. “After all, it was a bullet that stopped the terrorist. Amazing how so many seem to miss that fact.”
Holt went onto write that people “should not focus on the gun itself,” but instead on “the depravity of the heart of the person who’s pulling the trigger.” He encouraged people to buy more guns to protect themselves.
“I want you to arm yourselves and learn to shoot with deadly accuracy should the need arise,” he wrote. “Protect your family. Protect yourselves. Protect your friends. Our government has made it quite clear that it is incapable of doing so. At the end of the day, it’s your responsibility anyways.”
Early Sunday morning, a shooter armed with a 9mm handgun and a .223 caliber AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle stormed into Pulse, a popular gay nightclub in Orlando. He began firing, killing 49 people and injuring 53. The gunman, Omar Mateen, passed a full background check and purchased the firearms legally the week of the shooting, despite the fact that he had a history of domestic violenceand was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2013 for possible ties to terrorism.
While an armed security guard was present at the nightclub and traded fire with Mateen, the guard was not able to stop the massacre before police arrived.
The massacre has already reignited a debate about guns in Washington. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton renewed her call to limit the purchases of certain assault weapons.
“Some will say that assault weapons and background checks are totally separate issues having nothing to do with terrorism,” Clinton told a crowd in Cleveland Monday. “In Orlando and San Bernardino, terrorists used assault weapons, the AR-15, and they used it to kill Americans. That was the same assault weapon used to kill those little children in Sandy Hook. We have to make it harder for people who should not have those weapons of war, and that may not stop every shooting or every terrorist attack. But it will stop some and it will save lives.”
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, meanwhile, echoed Holt’s sentiment and called for more “guns on the other side” in a CNN interview Monday morning.
“If you had guns in that room, if you had — even if you had a number of people having them strapped to their ankle or strapped to their waist where bullets could have flown in the other direction right at him, you wouldn’t have had that tragedy,” Trump said.