Tenn. Firearms Association raffles AR-15; stirs controversy for promoting the ‘same weapon used by Adam Lanza’

Bushmaster AR-15 (Photo: Bushmaster.com)

Bushmaster AR-15.

The Tennessee Firearms Association recently put together a raffle for a Bushmaster AR-15. While the group received over 10,000 entries, and made as much money, some groups are calling the promotion both insensitive and disturbing for giving away the same type gun used by Adam Lanza in the Newtown shootings in December.

The promotion, which started on April 8, concluded entries on April 28. A winner was due to be drawn yesterday, but the TFA’s website has not yet made an announcement of the winner.

Linda McFadyen-Ketchum, a gun control activist from Nashville and Democratic political consultant, calls the timing of the promotion disturbing.

“The TFA’s assault weapon giveaway just four months after Newtown and in the middle of our country’s debate about gun safety is in-your-face insensitive,” McFadyen said. “We have to balance the right to bear arms with the right to be safe. A gun giveaway right now inflames emotions and does not help us achieve that goal.”

But Executive Director of the TFA John Harris concurs that, according to gun control advocates, there’s never a good time for any sort of gun-related promotion.

“These gun control activists, they can always pick the most recent event. If you look back through history, there’s a long string of Newtown, Aurora, keep the list going,” he said. “Under their analysis, you’d never sell a gun because someone got shot in recent history. But it has nothing to do with any prior events.”

Harris told The Tennessean that the giveaway had been planned for some time, but the TFA website does state that the giveaway is in an effort to “resist Barack Obama, the federal government and even a few in Tennessee state government who are determined to destroy your Second Amendment rights!” A statement which, of course, sparked a whole other debate about Tennessee legislatures and their records on gun rights related legislation.

Then there are those that accuse groups such as the TFA of profiting from the current gun control debate. Former state Rep. Debra Maggart calls it “good marketing.” And she added, “This may illustrate perfectly what I’ve been saying all along: They create these issues to raise money. That just stokes the fire to frighten folks.”

But as Harris also pointed out, the AR-15, the singled out gun at the center of the current debate, is the most popular rifle in America, and in fact, immediately following the tragedy at Sandy Hook, with predicted talk of gun control, sales of AR-15’s skyrocketed. So much so that in some parts of the country they were impossible to find and many of those that were available doubled or even tripled in price, which before the hype retailed for around $1,000. All of these sales came without the direction or insistent of any gun groups. Naturally, the craze has such simmered down a bit, but it still leaves the joke being that President Obama is (once again) the gun salesmen of the year.

Of course, the winner of the TFA’s AR-15 giveaway will be subject to a background check, as well as required to abide by all state and federal gun laws. It’s not as if they’re just randomly going to hand over a firearm to anybody who buys raffle ticket.

The Tennessean did conduct a poll asking if readers supported the TFA’s promotion to give away an AR-15, with results showing that 56 percent agreed with their right to hold the raffle, while 41 percent disagreed and 2 percent were undecided.

And, of course, the TFA’s AR-15 promotion has not been the only gun giveaway that has recently come under fire.

Nonetheless, when a pink AR-15 is raffled off and the proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization, it doesn’t cause uproar.

Is the Tennessee Firearms Association’s AR-15 giveaway insensitive and disturbing in light of the tragedy at Sandy Hook? Voice your opinion below.

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