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GOP congressional candidate defends AR-15 giveaway

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A Kansas congressional hopeful said Monday that he’s sticking by his campaign giveaway of an AR-15 rifle despite criticism in light of last Wednesday’s mass school shooting in Florida.

“We aren’t using this to raise money,” Tyler Tannahill told HLN’s Carol Costello. “We had this planned over a month ago to kind of coincide with the Kansas Republican Convention.”

The Republican candidate launched the giveaway along with his candidacy on February 13, a day before an AR-15-style rifle was used in the Parkland, Florida, massacre that left 17 people dead.

Tannahill said his campaign discussed if they should end the contest and decided to keep it going.

“We have to sit down and have these tough discussions,” he said. “I’m a staunch believer in the Second Amendment, and I don’t think those rights should be infringed, but how do we keep our children and teachers safe in schools?”

Costello interrupted: “You’re saying these things, but you’re giving away an AR-15 to bring attention to your campaign, at the very least.”

John Fredericks, a conservative talk radio host in Virginia who was participating in the segment, also criticized Tannahill’s giveaway, saying he felt it was “in really bad taste.”

“Come on, man, it doesn’t make any sense,” Fredericks said. “You’re not having a legitimate conversation when you’re giving away an AR-15 for free.”

Tannahill’s campaign isn’t the only assault rifle giveaway carrying on despite the Parkland shooting. The Kansas City Star reported on Saturday that third-graders will continue selling tickets for an AR-15 raffle in a baseball team fundraiser.

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