Greg Evers
Florida state senator Greg Evers announced on 20 June a giveaway contest for an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.Greg Evers for Congress

A Florida state senator has launched a "Homeland Defender Giveaway" contest to give residents of his district the opportunity to win a custom-built AR-15 semiautomatic rifle on the 4th of July.

State Senator Greg Evers, a Republican running for the 1st Congressional District seat vacated by Representative Jeff Miller, announced the contest just a week after the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 49 and injured 53 others. In his announcement, Evers said the rifle will be awarded after contestants are verified to have the required background and security checks.

"With terrorism incidents on the rise, both at home and abroad, protecting our constitutional rights has never been more important," Evers said in a statement announcing the contest. "With all that's happening in the world today, I've never felt stronger about the importance of the second amendment in protecting our homeland than I do now."

In the 13 hours since launching the contest, Evers' giveaway post has garnered 796 likes and 886 shares on Facebook.

According to Politico, Evers' giveaway contest was announced after a Tennessee state legislator was slammed for holding a similar giveaway that was planned before the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub on 12 June.

Evers, who has passed gun legislation in the past, has an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association. In 2014, Evers helped pass the so-called "warning shot" bill that allows gun-owners to fire warning shots to ward off attackers in dangerous situations. "This is about self-defence. It's one more step forward for people to protect themselves," Evers said at the time. "What this bill does, if you are threatened you can use force to defend yourself. This is just the right thing to do."

The rifle giveaway is available to district residents who are 18 years or older. The winner, who will be chosen at random, will receive a custom-built "Homeland Defender" collectors edition AR-15 from Advanced Tactical Solutions in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. The assault rifle has the 2nd amendment engraved on the right side of the receiver, Evers' announcement noted.