Indoor football league team calls off plans to give away an AR-15 rifle at upcoming game

Shortly after defending its planned promotional giveaway of a semiautomatic rifle, an indoor football team in Iowa decided to reverse course when one of its main sponsors objected to the event.

The Sioux City Bandits of the Champions Indoor Football league unveiled the promotion in a Facebook post on Wednesday. The team had planned to hold a drawing for an AR-15 rifle at its game on Saturday from among the fans 18 and older who signed up.

“If they’re going to proceed with this promotion, I don’t see how we would want to continue to be a sponsor," David Bernstein, one of the owners of State Steel, told the Des Moines Register. "And this has nothing to do with Second Amendment anything. We’re supporters of Second Amendment rights."

Team owner J.R. Bond told the Register earlier in the day that the team would not bend to requests to cancel the promotion, a week after a gunman in Texas using an AR-15 shot and killed 17 children and two teachers at an elementary school.

"Children die and to make it about a team in Sioux City, giving away an AR-15, to have any sort of connection to that is just absurd," Bond said. "Our fans are responsible. At the end of the day, this is still the United States of America. The Second Amendment exists."

Bond said the Military Night promotion is an annual event and the local sporting goods company providing the rifle does run background checks.

“We’re not going to cower down and backtrack because some guys in New York City and some guys in Boston, Massachusetts, think it’s bad taste,” Bond said. “We didn’t plan the promotion around it or anything like that. It’s something we do. It’s something we did last season. We’re not going to alter our plans because of East Coast and West Coast opinions.”

But then State Steel said it would consider severing ties to the team if the promotion went on as planned. "This has to do with insensitivity at a terrible time to run a promotion like this,” Bernstein said.

Following a meeting with team staff, Bond said the Bandits decided to postpone the promotion.

Contributing: Tommy Birch, Des Moines Register

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sioux City Bandits indoor football team scraps plan for AR-15 giveaway