Tennessee lawmaker receives death threats after saying he will give away an AR-15
Tennessee representative Andy Holt has notified Tennessee authorities after he received death threats from an unknown caller.
UPDATE: Tennessee representative Andy Holt has notified Tennessee authorities after he received death threats from an unknown caller.
This comes hours after Holt announced he would be giving away an AR-15 as a door prize for a fundraiser, the same type of rifle used in the Orlando shooting.
Holt posted the following to his Facebook page shortly after releasing the details of the threat:
Holt said he and a staffer got calls around 5 p.m. asking if they were in the office and when they would be returning. The caller then made physical threats and mentioned that "he had many guns and knew how to use them" and said he would be going to Nashville Tuesday to "pay a visit" to the two.
The staffer recorded the phone conversations and Holt said the two are filing a report with Tennessee State Troopers.
ORIGINAL STORY: One day after the worst mass shooting in American history, Rep. Andy Holt, is firmly standing behind his decision to give away a semi-automatic rifle similar to the one used in the Orlando shooting.
While announcing his plans last week to hold his first annual "Hog Fest and Turkey Shoot," Holt said he will give away an AR-15 as a door prize to an attendee of his June 25 fundraiser.
The event is also scheduled to include a turkey shoot — participants are encouraged to bring their own rifle and ammo.
Holt said despite Sunday's massacre in Orlando that left 50 people dead and 53 wounded, he remains stalwart in his belief that the weapon used in the mass shooting is not to blame.
"It has nothing to do with the style of weapon. It has everything to do with who’s behind the weapon," said Holt, who has sponsored several gun bills, including one recently enacted law that allows full-time employees at Tennessee colleges and universities to carry weapons on campus.
Holt said the weapon is the type that can be used for multiple purposes including hunting, target shooting and self-defense.
He said the only thing wrong with the AR-15 is that "it’s black and it looks real scary" adding, "If I beat somebody to death with a hammer that’s just a hammer. But if I was to take and wrap it up in electrical tape and make it black I guess that would make it an assault hammer."
Holt said there is no functional difference between any semi-automatic weapon and an AR-15, and argued that it didn’t matter that an AR-15 had been used in various American mass shootings in recent years, including the 2012 shooting in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater and last year's mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. "It's not about the gun. It has everything to do with the position and condition of that person’s heart that’s behind the gun behind pulling the trigger," he said.
When asked how someone could determine whether a person has a good or bad heart while trying to obtain a weapon, Holt said, “Ultimately we don’t know the answer to that question. But what we do know is that the vast majority of weapons that are used are not used for those unlawful purposes. They’re used for lawful purposes of defending one’s self.”
Turning to the issue of background checks, when Holt was asked if he believes there needs to be additional steps taken, he said, "I believe there needs to be decreased amounts of that for lawful citizens. The Constitution is very clear that all Americans, all U.S. citizens, have the right to keep and bear arms."
In March, Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, brought an AR-15 style rifle he purchased in a parking lot to the Tennessee legislature to argue for additional background checks. Stewart's efforts failed to make it out of committee.