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Evers' Gun Raffle Continues Despite Controversy

Photo via Flickr// David Leo Veksler

 State Senator Greg Evers’ Facebook page promoting a drawing for an AR-15 has been shut down by the social media outlet. The drawing is receiving scrutiny from other quarters as well.

Evers is one of five candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the August 30 primary to succeed Jeff Miller. Facebook says the page violated its terms and “promoted graphic violence.”

Evers says they managed to save all “like” and “share” contest entries, and that they were still “up and running on Facebook.”

The contest for the weapon is open to adults living in the 1st Congressional District. The winner, to be announced on July 4th, also has to pass a federal background check. When declaring his run for Congress in April, Evers touched on his gun record in Tallahassee.

“I have passed more pro-NRA legislation than any other member in the Legislature,” said Evers. “That, I’m proud of. Why? Because it’s our 2nd Amendment, it’s a constitutional right that’s given us.”

On his Facebook campaign page, Evers is quoted as saying he has never felt stronger about the importance of the Second Amendment, and that he’s not counting on Obama or Congress to protect him from terrorism, and neither should anyone else.

The contest, says Evers, was hatched well before Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. But many still question why the contest was announced just over a week after the massacre, including Doug Landreth, co-founder Gay Grassroots of Northwest Florida.

“Once again, this is just an illustration, that so many of our elected officials still continue to devalue us as citizens,” Landreth said. “And not take into account how their actions reflect their feelings towards persons that are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.”

The National Rifle Association has given Evers an A-plus grade for the past 14 years. But his main opponent for the GOP nomination, State Representative Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach, also scores high with the NRA.

Gaetz, who also did not return calls seeking an interview, sponsored legislation this year which would allow open carry of guns for those already holding permits for concealed weapons. He said last year that his belief in the “purity and sanctity” of the Second Amendment is based on a textual reading of the amendment itself.

“I do believe that this bill enhances the rights of citizens, and vindicates and restores rights that have been granted not by government, but by God,” said Gaetz. “

The measure, HB-163, died in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Observers say Sen. Greg Evers’ gun raffle is at least one indication of a rancorous campaign for the House District-1 seat between him and Matt Gaetz, who are considered the front-runners in a crowded field.