Republican candidate raffles semiautomatic rifle after Florida shooting

Republican candidate Aaron Penman has raffled an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle as a way of raising campign funds. Source: Facebook @SGTAaronPenman Home

Maryland Republican Aaron Penman auctioned an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle at a "gun cash bingo" fundraiser.

A Republican candidate for state office in the US has raffled an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, only days after the type of weapon was used in a Florida high school mass shooting.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Aaron Penman auctioned the gun at a sold-out "gun cash bingo" event on Saturday as part of his campaign to secure a seat in the Maryland lower house.

This came less than a week after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz gunned down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida with an AR-15.

About 15 people held a vigil outside the "gun cash bingo" event, reading the names of the Florida victims, as well as others killed in US mass shootings.

"I wanted to make sure this was something that was really about the victims because you do have a right to do this but you can't forget the consequences. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should," vigil organiser Sarah Mogol told the Baltimore Sun.

A poster for the event.
A poster for the event.

Another vigil attendee said: "It puts you on edge having to drop your kids off at school knowing that an incident like this could happen."

Mr Penman previously said he had no intention of cancelling the event after the Florida shooting.

"It is my belief that while this tragic incident should prompt a debate, infringing on the Second Amendment should not be in the conversation," he said.

Mr Penman's website says that "taking away the right to possess (a) firearm, or making the ownership process unnecessarily burdensome, only penalises lawful Americans and makes it easier for criminals to prey on the innocent".

The Florida shooting has once again flamed the US's long-running debate between supporters of tougher controls on firearms and advocates for gun rights.

Students who survived the Florida shooting have announced plans to march on Washington in a bid to "shame" politicians into reforming laws that make firearms readily available.

The "March for Our Lives" is scheduled to take place on March 24.

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