One of the most conservative members of the US Congress said Thursday he is raffling off an AR-15 assault rifle like the one used in a deadly school shooting last December.
Republican Steve Stockman of Texas will give the military-style weapon away on Independence Day next month, appalling those who have come to Washington to mark Friday's six-month anniversary of the massacre at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 children and six adults dead.
"You don't need to be an IRS agent to get your own Bushmaster AR-15. I'm giving one away for FREE on July 4! Sign up!" Stockman posted on Twitter.
Internal Revenue Service agents reportedly have been seen training with the weapons.
Stockman is a frequent critic of President Barack Obama and his push for stronger gun laws. "Grab this gun before Obama does!" Stockman posted in an earlier message.
Democrats in Congress led a push to tighten gun laws across the country in the wake of the Newtown shooting, including efforts to broaden background checks and ban military-style assault weapons including the AR-15.
The efforts were strongly opposed by lawmakers like Stockman and the powerful National Rifle Association, and the measures, watered down to attract Democrats from conservative states, failed to pass the Senate.
Stockman is known on Capitol Hill for his strident or bristling comments.
In recent weeks, he has been peddling a bumper sticker on his website which reads: "If babies had guns they wouldn't be aborted."
The lawmaker's latest tweet came as Sandy Hook relatives were in the US capital making a renewed push for gun legislation, something Vice President Joe Biden has signalled the White House wants to see happen.
"Personally it is absolutely appalling," a volunteer from Newtown who works with some of the relatives on seeking common sense gun legislation, said of the timing of Stockman's tweet.
The "Stockman for Congress" web page said the gun winner will be drawn randomly but that he or she "must meet all legal requirements and will be subject to a dealer's background check."
© AFP 2014