Fred Grimm

Gunslinging politician memorializes Orlando massacre with assault-rifle giveaway

In this Aug. 15, 2012, file photo, three variations of the AR-15 assault rifle are displayed at the California Department of Justice in Sacramento.
In this Aug. 15, 2012, file photo, three variations of the AR-15 assault rifle are displayed at the California Department of Justice in Sacramento. AP

The horrors of Orlando summoned reactions of shock, grief, anger from elected officials. And noble sentiments, including declarations of unity with the stricken LBGT community. “We are all gay tonight,” civic leaders declared at candlelight vigils organized to remember the slaughtered souls at the Pulse nightclub.

Then there was Greg Evers.

Congressional candidate Evers is a retiring state senator from Baker, a small town in the Florida Panhandle 400 miles from Orlando and apparently light years away in emotional distance.

On Sunday, Evers revealed the depth of his empathy for fellow Floridians grieving after the worst mass shooting in modern American history, after a demented shooter barged into a gay nightclub with an assault rifle, murdering 49 and wounding 53. Evers’ campaign office announced that he would be giving away an assault rifle to some lucky resident of Florida’s first congressional district.

“With terrorism incidents on the rise, both at home and abroad, protecting our constitutional rights has never been more important,” Evers declared in a press release issued by his campaign staff. During his 15 years in the state Legislature, Evers was so beloved by gun rights absolutists that the NRA once paid for 32 billboards in his home district featuring his likeness in camouflage garb and clutching a rifle with the caption, “I am the NRA.”

Custom-made AR-15 comes with “gunfighter grip” and metal plate engraved with 2nd Amendment.

He still is. Even after a gun massacre. So on July 4, Evers will preside over a random drawing for a custom-built AR-15 assault rifle. Participants qualify for the drawing by clicking “like” and “share” on the “Greg Evers for Congress” Facebook page. We’re all gunmen tonight seems a long, damn way from we’re all gay tonight, but I suppose we all empathize in our own way.

Evers will be giving away a “Homeland Defender” assault rifle with a considerable list of add-ons that would be useful in a firefight. Like a “BCM Gunfighter Vertical Grip” and a “Hogue pistol grip.” But what makes this Homeland Defender AR-15 so special is that the Second Amendment has been engraved in a metal plate just in front of the trigger guard.

To be eligible for the drawing, contestants must be 18 and pass the firearm background and security checks. If their names happen to appear on the U.S. Terrorist Screening Center’s no-fly list, no worries. Thanks to the NRA’s influence, Second Amendment rights trump the no-fly list.

To be fair, the weapon Omar Mateen wielded during the Orlando massacre was a Sig Sauer MCX, and only AR-15-like. It was AR-15-like enough that a witness trapped inside the Pulse recorded an audio sequence in which 24 shots were fired in just 9 seconds. No wonder Evers opted for the killing efficiency of an AR-15, instead of some piddling shot gun or hunting rifle. Other variants of AR-15s were employed to kill 14 in the San Bernardino massacre, to kill 9 at Umpqua Community College, to kill 27 at Sandy Hook Elementary and to murder 12 and at Aurora, Colorado.

Of course, none of those murder weapons featured an engraving of the Second Amendment.

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