The Washington State Republican Party will auction off an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle at its annual fundraising dinner in Bellevue on Saturday. The party’s chairman touted the weapon — the same type used in the Newtown and Aurora shootings — as one of the “great items” available.
The Seattle Times reported Thursday that Washington GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur called the auctioning of the gun “a pro-fundraising statement,” noting that “I think folks already know the state GOP is committed to gun rights.” Indeed, the state party’s platform calls the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, “the first line of defense to maintain the rule of law.”
Wilbur told the Times the AR-15 style rifle — in this raffle, a Plinker Plus Flat Top, donated by the Washington Arms Collectors — is “the best-selling weapon in America.” He noted that he owns two and “they have never killed an innocent person.” The winner will receive both the gun and a one-year membership in the Washington Arms Collectors, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association. The auction will be hosted by John Curley, a former Seattle television news magazine host.
When asked on Twitter whether the winner of the auction will need to pass a background check, Curley responded:
@steelekelly of course. We follow the law.
— Kirby Wilbur (@KirbyWilbur) April 12, 2013
The Washington Arms Collectors, the state’s largest gun show operator, require all buys to undergo background checks, despite Washington state’s gun-show loophole. Unless a vendor is federally licensed, such checks are not legally required under state or federal law.
Dwight Pelz, chair of the Washington State Democrats responded, noting that his party does not believe in assault weapons: “We think they should be banned… We would never raise money from the oil industry, or the tobacco industry, nor would we auction off an assault rifle.”