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Saturday, September 3, 2011

You'll Never Guess What Tucson Area Republicans Are Raffling Off

On January 8, 2011, Jared Loughner approached a crowd that gathered at a meet and greet for Representative Gabrielle Giffords at a Tucson area Safeway parking lot.  He pulled out a 9mm Glock 19 handgun, and killed six people, including a nine year old girl and a federal judge.  He shot Giffords and twelve others.

Six and a half short months later, and the fine Republicans of Pima County, Arizona, decide to hold a raffle to raise money for the party.  Take a look at what's up for grabs.

A 40 caliber Glock handgun, complete with three 12-round magazines, adjustable grips, and a case.  Unconscionable!  How can anyone in the same state, let alone the same district as where the shooting took place, raffle off a gun of the same make as one that left such an indelible mark on the community.  We're not talking about an event that took place hundreds of miles away, decades ago.  The address to send your raffle tickets to is 7.2 miles away from the location of the shooting that took place less than 8 months ago.

As you can imagine, many area Democrats are upset.  Pima County Democratic Chairman didn't mince words:
"I think it shows a rather stunning lack of judgment and sensitivity to raffle off the same make of weapon that was used in the tragic shooting spree of January the 8th," Rogers said.
"And it's kind of a slap in the face to a still-grieving community that is still working hard to absorb and get over the events of that tragic day. It's horribly bad taste and incredibly poor judgment to do something like that."
Mike Shaw, interim Pima County GOP Chairman, says that he's frankly surprised about the uproar concerning the raffle.
"That Glock is no more responsible for those deaths and the congresswoman's injuries than a Number 2 pencil is responsible for cheating on a test," Shaw said. "You look at the state of Arizona. But across the country, you have millions of people who own guns. They use them for recreation and self-protection. And Glocks are very popular guns."
I see.  The standard, "Guns don't kill people.  People kill.....bullets....Jesus...9/11." rhetoric that NRA members and Second Amendment loyalists have been spewing for decades.  Another Tucson area Republican official has a different take.  James Kelly, GOP chairman in District 29, which lies mostly in Tucson, says he instantly knew the raffle was a bad idea.
 "Let's make this perfectly clear: I advised against this raffle from day one," said Kelley, who also is on the Pima County GOP's executive committee. 
"I said, 'This is insensitive and stupid and a no-brainer. Do not advertise this.' The chairman and our executive director did the wrong thing. They said, 'Well, we've done it before.' Yes, but not since January 8, and we shouldn't be doing it now."
What do you think?  Appropriate or insensitive?  Callous?  Would things have been less controversial if they had raffled off a different model of firearm? Or would it have made any difference to a community that is still in the process of healing from a horrible tragedy?  I appreciate your comments.