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Congressional candidate defends AR-15 giveaway after Florida school shooting

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LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - A congressional candidate from Kansas is giving away an AR-15.

Tyler Tannahill announced the raffle the day before the Parkland, Florida, shooting where a semi-automatic-style rifle was used to kill 17 people. On Thursday, Tannahill announced he plans to go ahead with the giveaway.

Tyler Tannahill

The tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School is just the latest mass shooting where a gunman used an AR-15. The same type of weapon was also used in shootings in Las Vegas, Orlando, a Texas church and Newtown, Connecticut.

So why did the 2nd Amendment supporter decide to give one away?

“It’s one of the most popular weapons purchased in the United States. That’s why," said Tannahill, who declared himself an avid sportsman in a Feb. 13 Facebook post announcing the giveaway.

Late Thursday evening, "angry" reactions to the Facebook post outnumbered "likes" at more than 1,500 to 100.

“There has been personal attacks on my wife and my son, which doesn’t help us find a solution for helping us protect our children," he told WDAF.

The post on Tyler Tannahill's congressional candidacy Facebook page

Just before 9 p.m., all references to the giveaway were removed from his candidate Facebook page, but the giveaway post remained on his campaign website. Tannahill said he didn't remove the post - Facebook did, citing offensive content.

Tannahill called for realistic dialogue on mental health and better background checks. He added that whoever wins his AR-15 giveaway will have to comply with all federal regulations.

He posted shortly after the school shooting that he and his wife were heartbroken and encouraged people to check out a program to arm teachers.

“It’s been proven the sticker outside a school that says, 'No guns allowed. It’s illegal to bring firearms into school,' isn’t working. So what’s the solution? We have a 2nd Amendment. We have to keep that intact. I think it’s a program similar to this and training teachers to be a resource if something like does that happen," Tannahill said.

Tannahill is in a crowded field of Republicans vying to replace Rep. Lynn Jenkins. Paul Davis is the most likely Democratic challenger.