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Tennessee Republican Giving Away AR-15 Assault Rifles as Prizes

Tennessee Republican Giving Away AR-15 Assault Rifles as Prizes

Tennessee Republican Giving Away AR-15 Assault Rifles and Andy Holt

Rep. Andy Holt refuses to change the prizes set for his "HogFest" fundraiser.

A Republican lawmaker from Tennessee is giving away AR-15 rifles and refuses to change plans, nevermind apologize for it.

State Rep. Andy Holt will hand out two assault weapons as special prizes at his upcoming "HogFest" fundraiser, even after 29-year-old Omar Mateen used an AR-15 to gun down 49 people at Orlando's Pulse nightclub early Sunday. Another 53 were wounded at the Florida gay bar, which has become the site of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Holt struck back at criticism of the event in a lengthy Facebook post about the Florida shooting.

"I'm furious that I get phone calls from the media asking me if I'm still going to give away an AR-15 at our HogFest, rather than asking me how many extra firearms I'll be handing out to ensure people can protect themselves," wrote Holt. "After all, it was a bullet that stopped the terrorist. Amazing how so many seem to miss that fact."

Holt further seconded Donald Trump's comments about President Obama's response to the shooting. In a press release, the Republican frontrunner lashed out at the president for "[refusing] to even say the words 'radical Islam'" and further suggested that Obama should resign in disgrace. "For that reason alone, he should step down," Trump said of Obama's Sunday address on Orlando.

"I'm furious over the fact that our government literally refuses to recognize the threat of radical Islam," Holt agreed.

"I'm furious over the fact that so many are too ignorant to understand that the Twin Towers were not brought down by a firearm, but we're instead brought down by radical Islam," he continued. "Do you think these people care if they use a gun, bomb or an airplane?"

Sales of the AR-15 have come under fire because of the role it played in a number of mass shootings --including the tragedies in Aurora, Colo.; San Bernardino, Calif.; and Newtown, Conn.

Despite its repeated use in killing innocent people, the gun remains, according to the NRA, the "the most popular rifle on the market today." In 2012, the Portland Oregonian reported that there were 2.5 million and 3.7 million now in circulation; an estimated one million AR-15 are sold each year.

AR-15s retail between $1,000 and $2,000 in stores, but they are much cheaper to purchase online. On the Sportsman Guide website, the assault weapons cost around $500.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton told CBS This Morning on Monday that it's time to ban the AR-15 rifle and "keep weapons of war off our streets." Holt feels that in calling pushing for gun control reform, these policies "blame Republicans for this tragic attack on the LGBT community."

"While I am a conservative Christian, my heart literally breaks for these women and men on so many levels," he said.

His record, however, shows that Holt has been less than supportive of the LGBT community in the past. As a member of Tennessee's House of Representatives, the right-wing politician has routinely voted against the rights of LGBT people.

In 2015, Holt supported the Natural Marriage Defense Act, which sought to block the Supreme Court's historic ruling on marriage equality in the Volunteer State. "Whether the Court likes it or not," Holt stated in a press release. "It's time for the State of Tennessee to stand up and nullify this ruling." That bill died in committee this year. Holt has additionally backed legislation that would allow congregations to refuse marriage services to same-sex couples.

The HogFest fundraiser will be held on June 25.

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