Just one day before the deadly shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School that took the lives of 17 teachers and students, Tyler Tannahill, a Republican running for Kansas’ 2nd congressional district, announced a giveaway offer for a AR-15 assault rifle — the same used by gunman Nikolas Cruz. While Tannahill, a former Marine, couldn’t have known what was about to happen in Florida, even after the tragedy he’s refused to quietly put an end to the contest, triggering many to call him out for poor taste.
One such voice was CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who welcomed Tannahill onto Tuesday’s New Day to attempt to defend his decision. “So help me understand, brother,” Cuomo asked, point blank. “Why, after something like this, would you wanna give away the same weapon that was used to kill all those kids?”
Tannahill responded that he and his team decided to forgo hiding behind the usual thoughts and prayers, and instead use the tragedy as a way to have a “meaningful discussion” as to how they can protect both the Second Amendment and innocent people from getting gunned down in schools, churches, and concerts.
To little surprise, Cuomo was not on board with this line of thinking, but gave Tannahill another chance to explain himself, who then offered a solution of having teachers conceal carry in the classroom. That also didn’t go over so well with Cuomo, who later pointed out that in Kansas, person-to-person gun transfers without a background check are perfectly legal — so even if the hypothetical contest winner passes a background check, he or she can give the gun to whomever they want.
“So god forbid, someone who wins this AR-15 winds up transferring it to somebody else who’s mentally unstable and they don’t know, and they go out and use it,” Cuomo pointed out. “How would you feel then?”
Tannahill didn’t have an answer for that, despite Cuomo’s continued grilling. “Well, Mr. Tannahill, then at least do this,” he offered, concluding the segment. “If you’re going to give away a weapon in a state that allows person-to-person transfers without a check, you better follow up and know where that weapon is, know where it winds up, and make sure you understand who the end user is. If you want a solution, your state is a good place to start.”
As of now, Tannahill’s contest is still being advertised on social media: