Forget sensitivity, common sense, or even political acumen. A GOP representative will give out free AR-15s despite the Orlando massacre that left 49 people dead at a gay nightclub over the weekend. That's right, Republican Tennessee State Rep. Andy Holt has planned a campaign event in which he plans to raffle off two assault rifles, and he still hasn't cancelled it. Why? Some warped argument that "a crazed Muslim terrorist" shouldn't "change the plans or activities that we have as Americans."
The AR-15 in particular has come under attack since the Orlando shooting. The Boston Globe put an AR-15-style assault rifle on the cover with the words "Make It Stop," with "Stop" written in red. It wasn't the actual model used in the Orlando shooting, but the Sig Sauer MCX is quite similar and just as deadly. Of the 48 total mass shootings since the assault weapons ban expired in 2004, 13 have featured an assault rifle. Six of those in 2015 and 2016 alone.
So why on earth would this Tennessee politician carry on with the giveaway? Here's what he told CNN's David Gregory on New Day:
I think there is nothing more that this particular individual would love, this terrorist, than to think that he has changed a significant number of plans for Americans, and also that maybe gun control measures will be instituted regarding the use of firearms here in the United States because of his actions.
Holt, unlike some more diehard Republicans, agreed that it may make sense to restrict gun sales, at least to terrorists, as long as the government were "strategic" in the implementation of those laws:
I think there is a reason for terror suspects not to get firearms. A man that has devoted himself to ISIS and radical Islam, that's a precursor — that should disallow an individual to have a firearm.
There are level-headed legislators from Kentucky. The state's Democrats were up in arms over not just the insensitivity of the event, but that fact that he won't be performing a background check on the winners. Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini released a statement:
We're furious that in the wake of this tragedy, state Rep. Andy Holt is being such a reckless and irresponsible gun owner. Responsible gun owners don't give away guns without background checks. Responsible gun owners make sure that guns are safely and securely stored to prevent access by children or irresponsible adults. Responsible gun owners don't put guns in the hands of strangers. Andy Holt doesn't know if he's putting the winning raffle ticket in the hands of the next mass shooter.
Mancini also claimed Holt is anti-LGBT. Mancini said he fans the flames of hatred by "making jokes that demean them and statements that blatantly define them as different, wrong, and scary." So if Rep. Holt happens to be your state senator, I'm so sorry. But take Sanders' advice and run against him!