A Republican candidate for Virginia governor is giving away an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle for Christmas.
Corey Stewart, who also serves as Prince William County Board of Supervisors chairman, sent a campaign e-mail featuring a picture of the rifle to supporters Saturday. He hopes the giveaway emphasizes his support for gun rights
"If elected to be your next Gov u can be 100% CERTAIN I will never compromise your God-given right 2 keep & bear arms," said in a Twitter post promoting the giveaway.
AR-15 semi-automatic rifles have earned a dubious distinction of being the weapon of choice in several notable mass shooting in the United States. According to NBCNews, an AR-15 style rife has been used in at least 10 recent mass shootings, including the movie theater shooting in deadly Aurora, Colorado, in July 2012, the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012 and a work party shooting in San Bernardino, California in December 2015.
Stewart dismissed concerns about the weapon's tainted history in an interview with The Washington Post.
“Look, this is a rifle that people are permitted to own in the United States. There’s nothing wrong with that,” Stewart told the newspaper.
According to The Post, the winner of Stewart's contest will have to undergo a background check.
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Stewart is among several candidates running for the Republican nomination for Virginia governor next year.