A suburban Chicago gun shop is raffling a semi-automatic weapon to benefit victims of the nightclub shooting in Orlando.
Second Amendment Sports in McHenry, Illinois, is selling tickets for $5 to win an AR-15 rifle similar to the one gunman Omar Mateen used when he opened fire in a gay nightclub June 12, leaving 49 people dead and 53 injured. It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
“We wanted to do something for the loss of lives and injuries that happened to people in Orlando,” store owner Bert Irslinger Jr. told the Chicago Tribune.
The store isn’t making a political statement, owners said.
“I understand that there are different opinions out there,” said Vic Santi, store marketing director. “We don’t look at this as a gun issue. We look at this as a terrorism issue.”
Store owners plan to announce the winner on July 31, when they open a new gun range and larger showroom.
Kathleen Larimer’s son, 27-year-old John Larimer, a U.S. Navy sailor from Crystal Lake, Illinois, was one of 12 people killed in the 2012 shootings in a Colorado movie theater. Larimer called the raffle an inappropriate publicity ploy.
“Guns are not toys,” Larimer said. “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.”
The gun shop said proceeds plus its own donation of $2,000 will go to the OneOrlando Fund run by the nonprofit group Strengthen Orlando Inc.