The Asheville, N.C. chapter of the Tea Party is holding a gun raffle fundraiser. One of the guns featured is an assault weapon similar to the one used in last week's deadly shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
According to WNCN, the Tea Party group posted the raffle, which it calls "The Great Gun Giveaway" to its website Monday, mere days after the tragic event, which has sparked fervent national debate about gun control.
Scroll For Image
A DPMS Panther Oracle AR-15 assault weapon and a Keltec PMR-30 .22 Magnum pistol are included in the raffle. Police say Newtown gunman Adam Lanza opened fire on grade-school students, staff and teachers with a Bushmaster .223 AR-15 military-style assault weapon, a civilian version of the U.S. military's M-16, that was legally owned and registered to his mother.
According to USA Today, gun raffles aren't uncommon, although one local firearms instructor observed that the timing of the Tea Party fundraiser was inappropriate.
A spokesman for the Asheville Tea Party told NBC News that the raffle was planned before the shootings occurred.
"It goes without saying that any innocent souls killed or injured by whatever means have our sincere sympathy," Fremont V. Brown III, vice-chairman of the Asheville Tea Party, said.
The gun raffle remained on the Asheville Tea Party's website Thursday morning. It states that winners must be North Carolina residents and be able to pass background checks to claim the guns.
The local chapter also made news in September when it hosted a "Machine Gun Social" fundraiser at a firing range.
At that event, which benefitted candidates endorsed by the Asheville Tea PAC and iCaucus, a national Tea Party group, attendees paid money to shoot off submachine guns, AK-47's and M-16 assault weapons. The raffle differs in that the winners will actually take the guns home.
Some AR-15 models were outlawed under the assault weapons ban of 1994. That ban expired in 2004.
Congress is expected to vote on gun control legislation when it reconvenes in January.