(CNN) — A Tennessee state lawmaker is defending his plans Friday to give away firearms closely following the terror attack in Orlando, arguing that “a crazed Muslim terrorist” shouldn’t “change the plans or activities that we have as Americans.”
Republican State Rep. Andy Holt planned a campaign event featuring a giveaway of two AR-15 rifles — a firearm that advocates for stricter gun regulations have made a symbol of out-of-control gun proliferation — before Orlando’s deadly mass shooting at a gay nightclub over the weekend.
Holt told CNN’s David Gregory on “New Day” that to cancel the event now would be wrong, and viewed as a surrender to terrorists.
“I think there is nothing more that this particular individual would love, this terrorist, than to think that he has changed a significant number of plans for Americans, and also that maybe gun control measures will be instituted regarding the use of firearms here in the United States because of his actions,” Holt said.
He added, “I don’t concede to the idea we should change our plans because this individual inappropriately used a firearm.”
Pressed on the need for some sort of response to the shootings in Orlando, Holt appeared open to changing some regulations, specifically regarding the ability of suspects on terror watch lists to purchase guns.
“I think there is a reason for terror suspects not to get firearms. A man that has devoted himself to ISIS and radical Islam, that’s a precursor — that should disallow an individual to have a firearm.”
Holt, though, clarified that the government would need to “be strategic in their implementation of those laws.” And he maintained his opinion that “the argument should be about radical Islam and gun-free zones.”
Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people on Sunday, used a Sig Sauer MCX assault-style rifle and had a Glock 9mm semiautomatic pistol. Mateen was able to purchase the guns legally despite at having been on a terror watch list at one point.