TN state rep to give away AR-15s at fundraiser - WSMV News 4

TN state rep to give away AR-15s at fundraiser

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Rep. Andy Holt (Source: Rep. Andy Holt (Source:

A fundraising event in the works for Tennessee state Rep. Andy Holt was offering an AR-15 as the door prize.

Holt, R-Dresden, is known for speaking his mind, and the day after the deadliest shooting in American history is no exception.

For an upcoming fundraiser, the West Tennessee lawmaker is planning to give away two AR-15 rifles, a similar kind of weapon used in Sunday’s shooting.

“We should not focus on the gun itself,” said Holt in a phone conversation. “We should focus on the depravity of the heart of the person who’s pulling the trigger.”

Omar Mateen, who allegedly pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State, carried out an attack at a gay night club in Orlando early Sunday morning.

Investigators said he used a pistol as well as an assault-style rifle to kill 49 people and wound 53 others.

Holt said his door prize will encourage people to protect themselves.

When asked if he thought giving away an assault-style rifle might be offensive, Holt said, “It’s not intended to come across as offensive, it’s intended to help people.”

The AR-15 has emerged as the weapon of choice in recent mass shootings such as San Bernandino, CA, Aurora, CO, and Newtown, CT. It has the ability to fire several rounds in a short time frame.

Holt said any weapon is dangerous in the hands of a deranged criminal.

“You can inflict a lot of damage,” said Holt when asked if a person with a handgun would be able to kill so many. “A Molotov cocktail would have done the same thing.”

Other lawmakers clearly disagree.

On Twitter, Congressman Steve Cohen, D-TN, called on House Speaker Paul Ryan on Sunday to introduce legislation that would ban all assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

"Outside of our military, no one in this county needs an assault rifle to defend themselves or their homes.They are often used in these mass shootings. Also as Congress continues the appropriations process, we must allocate more federal funding for mental health treatments and centers," said Cohen in a statement.

Holt writes off the comment as political opportunism.

“I’d say that Steve Cohen is absolutely and emphatically wrong in his pursuit of trying to ban lawful weapons,” said Holt.

Holt blamed the media for the repeated use of the AR-15 in mass shootings.

"Why do we see the repeated use of the AR-15? Well because it's interviews like this," Holt told Channel 4. "It's because of the media's absolute infatuation with the AR-15."

Channel 4 initially asked Holt if he planned to still give away the AR-15 in light of the Orlando massacre. The lawmaker said yes, then added he wanted to give away a second AR-15, as well.

Hours later, Holt took to Twitter, saying he actually made the decision "in light of media/liberal attacks on a previously scheduled fundraiser giveaway."

Holt’s fundraising event is a hog fest and turkey shoot.

In the online announcement, Holt also cracked a joke about the transgender community.

He said President Barack Obama has no control over the event and the women’s division for the shoot is only open to biological females.

Holt later said he and a staffer received threats.

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