Editorial: AR-15 giveaway is not a discussion

The Facebook page for Tyler Tannahill for Congress announced Feb. 13, “As an avid sportsman, I’m excited to announce our first AR-15 Giveaway.” 

One day later, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida would lose 17 students to a shooting, done with the same type of gun that Tannahill was raffling off. Tannahill, a candidate for Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District, defended the decision to continue the raffle and told CNN that his campaign considered ending the giveaway but ultimately decided not to. 

“We have to sit down and have these tough discussions,” Tannahill said in the interview. “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?” 

On the day of the Douglas High shooting, Tannahill posted a link on Facebook to FASTER, a nonprofit program by the Buckeyes Firearm Foundation, that according to the website, “gives teachers and students violence response training,” in the event of a shooting threat. 

Yet another guest in the CNN segment, Virginia-based conservative talk show radio host John Fredericks disagreed with Tannahill’s form of discussion. Fredricks said the giveaway was “in really bad taste.” 

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

Tannahill’s excuse’s of rights and “violence response training” is the continued pathetic response of legislators who are ever too careful to not indict the very people who put the money into their campaigns. 

Saying #NeverAgain, a hashtag used in conjuncture with the Douglas shooting, means supporting Congressional candidates and leaders who are willing to enact legislation to counter the threat that assault rifles pose. 

A quick Google search will give you lists of members of both the House and Senate who are currently receiving donations from the NRA. A bit more research will lead you to their messages about the Las Vegas massacre, with statements on “thoughts and prayers,” and support for the victims in the attack. 

There is a time for thoughts and prayers, but it is time to act and implement legislation that does a better job of stopping these types of events. With midterms coming up, it is imperative that we as voters inform ourselves about what candidates believe, what groups they are funded by and what legislation they are pushing. Never should Tannahill’s insensitive form of “discussion” be the norm of our Congress members.