Despite fielding criticism on social media, a candidate for a Maryland House of Delegates seat says he still plans to hold a campaign fundraiser that includes raffling off an AR-15 gun.
Sgt. Aaron Penman, a Harford County Republican who is running for state delegate in District 7, is hosting a sold-out “gun bingo” event Saturday evening at the Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company.
The bingo portion of the event features a range of guns as prizes, including a “jackpot game” in which the winner will get an AR-15 — a semi-automatic rifle. There will also be a raffle in which the winner will receive an AR-15. The Facebook page for the event says all gun winners must complete state and federal background checks.
After the mass shooting at a Florida school this week in which 17 people were killed with an AR-15, dozens of people posted negative comments about the event on Penman’s Facebook page about the event.
“Hosting a gun bingo 3 days after a school massacre is absolutely disgusting and reprehensible,” one wrote.
“Having a Gun Bingo is really a slap in the face to all the families suffering the loss of their loved ones in Parkland,” wrote another. “Who ever will need an AR15? Are you serious?”
Penman, who is a sheriff’s deputy in Harford County, said in an email to The Sun that he plans to continue with the event. He said he viewed canceling the event as an infringement on the Second Amendment.
“I want to first convey my heartfelt sorrow for the victims and families of the Florida shooting. As a Christian and father of four, my thoughts and prays are for the families,” he said in a statement.
“In reference to the gun/cash bingo, the event is still scheduled as planned. 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. “Instead, I believe the focus should be on mental health and security in schools.”
Penman is one of 11 Republicans running for three seats in District 7 of the House of Delegates. The winners of the Republican primary in June will face a Democrat and a Green Party candidate in the general election.