Controversy has surfaced in Tennessee following the Orlando nightclub shooting on Sunday after it was publicized that a state representative planned to give away an AR-15 at a fundraising event.
According to Republican Representative Andy Holt of Dresden, the giveaway and fundraiser had been planned months ahead of the shooting, but when news surfaced that the giveaway was for the same gun, controversy erupted, leading Holt to say that he was going to change his plans and instead give away two AR-15s, saying he believes a responsibly armed public can help protect Tennessee families from people who commit crimes with guns.
"I'm not going to back away from it," Holt said. "We're going to give away an AR-15 because guess what? It doesn't have anything to do with the weapon, it has everything to do with the person who's behind that weapon pulling the trigger."
Still, Holt said he is not backing down from his gun giveaway.
"It's a celebration of the second amendment and the only force by which we could have prevented further casualty from occurring in Orlando, and in most of the other situations where we see that mass murders have occurred," Holt explained.
Not only did Holt's stance bring on harsh criticism, but he also received death threats.
Holt's office received multiple phone calls from a Memphis, Tennessee phone number. The caller, who did not identify himself, made multiple threats to Rep. Andy Holt’s executive legislative assistant, Michael Lotfi and Holt himself. The caller made the threats in response to comments Holt made earlier in the day regarding his intentions to give away an AR-15.
When it comes to background checks, Holt said he believes anyone on a terrorist watch list should not be able to buy a gun, but beyond that, he believes the background check laws are adequate.