A gun store in McHenry, Illinois, is raffling off an assault weapon to raise money for the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, who were shot with a similar military-style carbine (video below).
"What we're trying to do is support the victims of a heinous crime," Bert Irslinger Jr., co-owner of Second Amendment Sports, told WGN-TV. "Essentially, we don't look at this as a gun issue. We've heard a lot of discussion regarding a gun issue. We think this is a terrorist issue and an anti-American issue."
The U.S. government has repeatedly said Orlando gunman Omar Mateen was not part of a terrorist organization, but he reportedly declared his allegiance to ISIS during a phone call with authorities.
"We’re looking to support the victims, the families and the survivors of this act," Irslinger added. "And how we do that, is in our own way."
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The gun store plans to give $2,000 to the OneOrlando Fund that supports victims' families, and sell $5 raffle tickets for a Smith & Wesson AR-15.
Forty-nine people were killed, and dozens more were wounded by Mateen who used a Sig Sauer MCX assault weapon, reported Mother Jones.
"For our industry, this isn’t weird," Irslinger said. "This is a normal product. It’s bought every day by Americans across the United States, and by law-abiding citizens across the United States."
Mateen, a law-abiding American citizen before the shooting, legally bought his assault weapon at a gun store in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on June 4. His normal product was able to fire 24 shots in nine seconds.
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"And if this is how we feel is the best way to raise as much money or as large of a fund as we can, I think that people should be happy with that," Irslinger stated.
Irslinger did not mention how the victims' families and friends may feel, but some of them are publicly rejecting the donation.
"I understand people want to help, but this is very upsetting," Jason Mendes-McAllister, whose friend Edward Sotomayor was killed in the shooting, told the New York Daily News. "It's like rubbing salt in the wound."
"For anybody to capitalize on the loss to get free publicity, it's sad," Mendes-McAllister added. "You're raffling off a gun of this magnitude knowing it's similar to the one that left so many people dead, injured and grieving. It's insensitive."
"I'm not against anyone carrying a gun," Giovanni Nieves, who lost five close friends, said. "It's our right as Americans. But it's incredibly insensitive and disrespectful to hold a raffle like this. This isn't a prize to win in relation to OneOrlando. This is the same style of gun that took the 49 lives. This is a gun used for war or a battle."
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer's spokeswoman, Cassandra Lafser, told the New York Daily News in an email: "The city has not organized any of the fundraising events and honestly there are so many happening it is not realistic for the city to be aware of them all."
After being made aware of the gun fundraising effort, it's not clear if Dyer supports it or not.