A suburban gun store in Chicago is holding a special raffle to benefit victims of the Orlando night club shooting that left 49 people dead and 53 injured.
The prize? An AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, similar to the one gunman Omar Mateen used during the June 12 mass shooting.
Tickets are $5 apiece, and the winner will be announced July 31, when the store opens a new gun range and larger showroom.
Bert Irslinger Jr., the owner of Second Amendment Sports in McHenry, Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune he “wanted to do something for the loss of lives and injuries that happened to people in Orlando.”
The store’s marketing director Vic Santi, meanwhile, insisted that they weren’t making a political statement.”I understand that there are different opinions out there,” he said. “We don’t look at this as a gun issue. We look at this as a terrorism issue.”
“We don’t look at this as a gun issue. We look at this as a terrorism issue.”
Proceeds from the raffle plus a $2,000 donation from the store willgo to the OneOrlando Fund run by the nonprofit group Strengthen Orlando Inc.
The store chose the AR-15 because it’s their most-purchased item, Santi told The Guardian. Mateen reportedly had a Sig Sauer MCX .233-caliber rifle that used AR-15 magazines and clips.
Kathleen Larimer, whose 27-year-old son John Larimer was one of 12 people killed in the 2012 shootings at a Colorado movie theater, said the raffle was an inappropriate publicity ploy.
“Guns are not toys,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “They should be taken seriously. I’m not saying they should be illegal, but raffling off a gun is not taking its killing power seriously.”
Colleen Daley, executive director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence in Chicago, said the raffle is offensive.
“I’m glad people are trying to raise money,” she said. “I just don’t think it’s the most appropriate way to do that. These guns are weapons of war, meant to kill large numbers of people in a short time, which is what happened in Orlando. I find it very distasteful and offensive.”
Reactions to the store’s Facebook post advertising the raffle were mixed.“Keep it going guys!! This is great for business!!” one person wrote.
“This is really unbelievably tone deaf, insensitive and just gross,” another posted. A third wrote:“Insensitive, stupid, arrogant, disrespectful, stupid, stupid, stupid.”
The Associated Press contributed reporting.
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