"The fact that you have a dealership giving away AK-47s to celebrate Veteran's Day --- using guns that were used to attack our veterans -- is the beginning of the grotesque nature of this promotion," said Sugarmann, executive director of the Washington-based Violence Policy Center.
Sugarmann said the additional purchase of guns might exacerbate Florida's label as a "key gun trafficking state." In September, the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns issued a report saying Florida was second to Georgia for the most guns bought in one state and used for crimes in another. More than 2,600 guns traced to crimes last year originated in Florida.
Advocates and legislators have discussed other gun-related legislation to minimize gun crimes.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) introduced the Firearm Owners Responsibility Act in July, which would require gun owners to report a lost or stolen gun to law enforcement within three days of the discovery that it is missing. She said she is dismayed at the promotion.
"It is important that we ensure a system of responsible gun ownership in this country. Distributing assault rifles as free gifts undermines the seriousness and responsibility that accompanies gun ownership," said Rep. McCarthy.
Rep. McCarthy, Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) have also advocated for requiring background checks on all sales at gun shows. Currently, checks are not necessary if one buys a gun from private collections at some gun shows.
Rep. Quigley said he has no issue with law-abiding citizens passing background checks and buying guns legally, but he does have a problem "with Congress refusing to close the gun-show loophole and letting unlicensed dealers sell guns to terrorists, felons, and the mentally ill."
Larry Anderson, manager of Shoot Straight in Apopka, emphasized that the AK-47 rifles in his store are legal civilian, not military, guns, and that business promotions with guns have a long history.
From 1976 through the 1990s, the Bank of Boulder in Colorado had a promotion offering a free shotgun or rifle with the purchase of a certificate of deposit. A Fortune magazine article from July 25, 1994, said the bank's most popular offer, the "Hunter's Special," offered a rifle, binoculars, and other hunting items, "in lieu of interest to customers who deposit $3,148 in a nine-year CD."
In July 2009, a car dealership in Butler, Missouri also offered a free AK-47 with a new truck.
"Banks give away teddy bears and toasters. Guns are extreme to some people. In this case, the only thing that may be unusual is the type of gun," said Anderson. "The concept has been around."