Parents held a vigil outside the fundraiser for Aaron Penman, a sheriff’s deputy who is running for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates, to remember the 14 students and three workers killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week.
“The thing that we can all agree on is to be sorry for victims and it’s important for people to remember them”, one told the Baltimore Sun, while stressing that she did not oppose people’s right to attend the raffle.
Mr Penman, a former Marine, said cancelling the event would have been an infringement on the Second Amendment, which protects Americans’ right to bear arms.
Conveying his “heartfelt sorrow” to the victims in Florida, he told Fox News the event had been “months in the planning”.
The Facebook page for the event said all gun winners must complete state and federal background checks.
Tyler Tannahill, a Republican from Kansas, announced a similar raffle the day before the Florida attack, according to WDAF.
An AR-15 was used last week to kill 17 people, the youngest of whom was was 14, at the high school in Parkland, a small city about 50 miles north of Miami.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and police said he has confessed to being the shooter.
The AR-15 is the semi-automatic, commercial version of the military M-16 assault rifle. However, the two differ as the version available to the public does not have fully-automatic or burst firing modes.
One was used by Stephen Paddock to kill 58 people at a Las Vegas concert last year.
The 64-year-old modified his rifle with a “bump stock“, which used the weapon’s recoil to fire single shots at a near-fully-automatic rate.
Auctions for AR-15s reportedly took place around the US in the days following the Parkland killings.
In Missouri children sold raffle tickets for an AR-15 to raise money for a youth hockey team.
Coach Levi Patterson told the Kansas City Star the fundraiser for the third-grade team in Neosho had been planned before last week’s attack.
He says his heart broke for the shooting victims, but that gun raffles had been going on for years. He also said none of the children on the team would be forced to sell raffle tickets. Players selling tickets ranged in age from seven to nine.
The weapon was offered by a player’s father who was a co-founder of a local gun store. The winner must pass a background check.
A third AR-15 was put up for auction in Sacramento, California, in aid of the Cameron Park Firefighters Association. A number of people reportedly walked out of the event after spotting the weapon.
“These are our first responders responding to these types of events, these shootings, and they should be concerned with putting one of those types of weapons out in our community,” attendee Allison Merrill told the NBC Bay Area news channel. “And instead, it was being given out as a prize.”
However in South Lyon, Michigan, a “Wild Game” dinner designed to raise money for the local high school football team was cancelled after an AR-15 was due to be raffled.
“The sensitivity of the issue coupled with the untimely tragedy has led to the decision”, organisers said.
Additional reporting by agencies