In the wake of the Orlando mass shooting, the deadliest in U.S. history, a state senator and congressional candidate in Florida announced Sunday he's running a contest to give away an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle on the Fourth of July. The contest, dubbed the "Homeland Defender Giveaway," will hand out the same type of rifle that was initially reported to have been used in the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in central Florida last Sunday.

"With terrorism incidents on the rise, both at home and abroad, protecting our constitutional rights has never been more important,” Greg Evers, a Republican running to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Jeff Miller, wrote in announcing the giveaway over the weekend. “With all that’s happening in the world today, I’ve never felt stronger about the importance of the Second Amendment in protecting our homeland than I do now."


Evers is a longtime supporter of gun rights. He has for years received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association, according to the announcement. As a state senator, he has pushed for expanded conceal carry laws that would make it possible for gun owners to bring a firearm onto a college campus undisclosed. He also helped pass a law known as the “Pop Tart Law,” which came in response to a Florida student getting suspended for chewing a Pop Tart into a gun shape. Beyond that, he has also pushed for legislation that would curtail the ability of doctors to ask patients about guns in their homes (a challenge is scheduled to be heard in the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday).

Adults living in Evers’ district can join the raffle simply by liking his page on Facebook and then sharing one of the page’s posts.

The guns used in the June 12 Orlando massacre, which left 49 dead and 53 wounded, were a semi-automatic assault-style rifle and a semi-automatic pistol. The gunman, Omar Mateen, allegedly professed allegiance to the Islamic State group during the attack, but investigators say his profile is more like that of a "typical mass shooter" than someone radicalized by ISIS, according to the New York Times.