Republican Tyler Tannahill, running against Rep. Lynn Jenkins in Kansas’ second congressional district, announced last Tuesday that his is raffling an AR-15 rifle. In light of the mass school shooting that transpired the very next day, during which 17 people were killed with that very weapon, Tannahill is facing calls to end the giveaway.
But Tannahill is pushing forward.
Rather than nix the campaign stunt, Tannahill has decided to continue with the raffle, saying he is a "strong believer" in Americans' right to bear arms:
“No individual is for school shootings. It’s heartbreaking ... being a parent, our thoughts on that, for me personally, I am a strong believer in the Second Amendment,” Tannahill said in an interview with The Star. “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.”
Part of the solution, says Tannahill, is better training for teachers and other school officials in how to respond to the threat of gun violence.
Hours after the Florida shooting, Tannahill posted to social media that he and his wife were “heartbroken to learn of the tragedy” and shared a link to a nonprofit program by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation called FASTER.
According to the nonprofit’s website, the program gives teachers and staff “practical violence response training” in the event of an armed threat to students.
Tannahill said he supports the idea of the training program for educators, adding “I don’t think more laws could have prevented this (the Florida shooting).”
The contest unsurprisingly met with a fair amount of criticism, and numerous social media users assailed Tannahill's Facebook and Twitter accounts with comments calling him "tone deaf" and "out of touch".
Though Tannahill removed the original post announcing the raffle on Facebook, the giveaway is still active on his campaign website.