A Republican Congressional candidate in Kansas is going forward with a promotional giveaway this weekend of an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle – the same kind used by the 19-year-old murderer in Parkland, Florida this week to kill 17 people – despite backlash from critics and angry responses on social media.
Tyler Tannahill of Leavenworth, Kansas, said he has planned the promotion for a month and announced the rifle giveaway on Tuesday – before the shooting – to coincide with the Kansas Republican Convention this weekend in Witchita. Despite the tragic events in Florida, he nonetheless plans to continue with the giveaway.
The former Marine, who describes himself as an “avid sportsman,” said he is doing it to show support for the Second Amendment, and that he supports weapons training.
Tannahill said he does not believe more gun laws would have prevented the mass murder, which is music to the NRA’s’s ears.
On his Tyler Tannahill for Congress page.
Come on Kansas, what are you thinking? pic.twitter.com/oTPkqRK005
— Nitpicker (@DenaMaguire) February 15, 2018
Tannahill is running to replace another Republican, Rep. Lynn Jenkins, in the 2nd Congressional district, who has announced she will not run for reelection.
Jenkins is a conservative but by today’s alt-right Republican standards, she’s a centrist.
She has a 93 percent voting record with the NRA but is on record supporting banning the sale of semi-automatic weapons like the one Tannahill is giving away and she supports background checks at gun shows.
Tannahill will align even more closely with the NRA position, which is to have little or no regulation of guns or gun ownership.
“No individual is for school shootings,” Tannahill told the Kansas City Star. “It’s heartbreaking…being a parent, our thoughts on that, for me personally, I am a strong believer in the Second Amendment. “I think we need to have a discussion of what can be done and throwing out comments of displeasure isn’t going to solve it.”
Shortly after the shooting, Tannahill posted to social media that he and his wife were “heartbroken to learn of the tragedy.” They shared a link to the Buckeye Firearms Foundation (FASTER), a non-profit that gives school teachers and staff “practical violence response training” in the event of a threat to students by a gun-toting maniac.
“We’re not trying to raise money off the school shooting,” Tannahill said. “We do want to find a solution and I think this FASTER program is something we can look into implementing..”
The winner of the contest must be over 18 and go to a gun store to pick up the rifle after passing a federal background check. The gun costs $739.
None of that sat well with many people, some of whom shot back on social media.
Tone deaf. Your timing couldn’t be better, though, to convince people to vote for your opponent.
— Lynn-just Lynn (@Polyesther123) February 15, 2018
This poster made the point an AK-15 is not a hunting weapon for a “sportsman” like Tannahill.
So you are giving away the same type of gun that was just used in the High School shooting in Florida. And people ask what is wrong with our country. Look no further then our politicians. I have lots of sportsman in my family and this type of gun is not needed for hunting.
— Brian Keller (@BrianK232) February 15, 2018
A Democratic Congressional candidate for another nearby district called for a ban on assault weapons after the shooting.
“Thoughts and prayers are not enough,” said Brent Welder, who is running to unseat a Republican in the 3rd Congressional district. “I demand Congress reinstate the ban on assault weapons…Hunters don’t use assault weapons – mass murderers do.”
Tannahill isn’t the first candidate to give away a semi-automatic rifle in this election cycle.
Last September, Austin Petersen, running for the Senate in Missouri, offered up one of the deadly semi-automatic weapons as a promotion. After he live-streamed the raffle, he was barred from Facebook for 30 days.
Tone deaf is not strong enough a term to denounce Tannahill, or Petersen for that matter.
These guns should not be sold, let alone given away.
If we had a Congress that was responsive to the will of the majority of the people, and not beholden to the NRA lobby, this would have been done long ago.
Remember, under President Clinton, when there was a Democratic Congress, semi-automatic rifles of this type were banned in the U.S. It was only when Republicans took power again that the ban was allowed to lapse.
If Tannahill is hunting with his AR-15, then he should be banned from running for office, even in a red state like Kansas, or at least voted down by sane citizens.