When the Washington State Republican Party holds its annual fundraising dinner this weekend, one of the items up for auction will be an AR-15 style rifle — the type of semi-automatic weapon targeted by many gun-control advocates since Adam Lanza used one to rapidly kill 20 children and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.
State GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur touted the gun auction on Twitter Wednesday. In an email to The Seattle Times, he said the party has auctioned other weapons in the past and that the AR-15 sale was not meant as a pro-gun political statement.
“It’s intended as a pro-fundraising statement. I think folks already know the state GOP is committed to gun rights,” he said in an email.
In the wake of the Newtown massacre, gun-control advocates have pushed for a renewed assault-weapons ban, heightened background checks for gun buyers and limits on high-capacity magazines. But many Americans have reacted by rushing to buy AR-15 style rifles, whose prices have shot up due to the demand.
Wilbur said he is aware of the controversy surrounding the rifles, but added: “It’s also the best-selling weapon in America, I own two, they have never killed an innocent person.”
The gun to be auctioned Saturday — a Plinker Plus Flat Top made by Olympic Arms in Lacey — was donated by Washington Arms Collectors, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association which holds the largest gun shows in the state.
For Republicans who already have sufficient arsenals, the GOP is also auctioning other items Saturday, including: an African safari; lunch at the U.S. Capitol with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers; and lunch for six with former state Attorney General Rob McKenna – “Gangnam Style” dancing included.