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Arizona county's Republicans criticized for gun raffle in light of January shooting spree
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) ' The Republican Party in the county that encompasses Tucson, where a January shooting rampage left six people dead and 13 wounded, 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. The headline for the announcement read: "Help Pima GOP get out the vote and maybe help yourself to a new Glock."
Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Rogers called the raffle a "stunning lack of judgment and sensitivity" given that the weapon is the same make used in the Jan. 8 shooting spree in the county seat. U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was among those wounded.
The gun used in the shooting rampage 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's had 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's legislative district that includes the southern Tucson area, 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 added.
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 with a cap of 125. The gun comes with three 12-round magazines and a case.
The raffle will take place once all 125 tickets are sold, the website says.
Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.azstarnet.com