The Republican Party in the county where a deadly Arizona shooting rampage took place is drawing criticism for its decision to raffle a gun to raise money for get-out-the-vote efforts.
The Pima County Republican Party publicized the raffle in its online newsletter last week, under a headline that read: "Help Pima GOP get out the vote and maybe help yourself to a new Glock."
Jeff Rogers, chairman of the county's Democratic Party, called the raffle a "stunning lack of judgment and sensitivity" given that the weapon is the same make used in the Jan. 8 mass shooting in Tucson, the Pima County seat. The shooting spree left six people dead and 13 wounded, including Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The handgun being raffled is a Glock 23. The one used in the Tucson shooting was a Glock 19, the Arizona Daily Star (http://bit.ly/na5ZEU) reported.
Rogers has called on the GOP to make the prize an iPad or a set of golf clubs, "or anything that doesn't conjure up images of that terrible day."
Mike Shaw, interim chairman of the Pima County Republican Party, said he has received no complaints, noting past gun raffles have been effective fundraisers and that responsible gun ownership is a constitutional right.
"There is absolutely no reason for anyone to think it is inappropriate," he said.
James Kelley, chairman of the GOP legislative district that includes southern Tucson, said he advised his colleagues not to raffle the gun. He acknowledged the party has held previous gun raffles without problems, "but post-Jan. 8, it's bad messaging, and it's insensitive."
"It doesn't mean the Republican Party doesn't have an incredible record of supporting the Second Amendment, but at this point it's ill-advised and I won't stand with them on this," Kelley said.
In Phoenix, House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said Thursday the Pima County GOP raffle plans are "unconscionable."
"Arizona is still healing from these wounds," the Democrat said. "If any good could have come out of this horrific event, it would be civility in our state or employing sensitivity when needed, not reopening the wounds or making light of them."
According to the Pima County Republicans' website, tickets for the raffle are $10 each and there are 125 tickets available. The gun comes with three 12-round magazines and a case.
The raffle will take place once all the tickets are sold, the website says.
Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.azstarnet.com