SPOKANE — State Republicans will have a chance to bid on the type of rifle at the center of the current gun-control vs. gun rights debate, an AR-15, at their spring fundraiser this weekend.
But state GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur said auctioning off the semi-automatic rifle is not a pro-gun statement. Washington Republicans are pretty much pro-gun already.
“It’s a pro-fundraising statement,” party spokesman Keith Schipper quoted Wilbur as saying.
The AR-15, manufactured by Olympic Arms Inc. of Olympia and donated by Washington Arms Collectors, tops the list of auction items on the party’s website announcement of the Spring Gala Dinner and Auction. Also up for bid: a tour of the U.S. Capitol and lunch with U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, an African photo safari, and lunch at the home of former state Attorney General Rob McKenna.
The spring dinner is one of two big fundraisers the local party throws each year. Schipper said they don’t release goals for what they hope to raise.
An AR-15 was one of the guns used by mass shooter Adam Lanza in Newtown, Conn., and by James Holmes in Aurora, Colo. It is sometimes the focus of attention for proposals to ban what some call military-style assault weapons, although opponents of those proposed bans say it’s not really that different from other semi-automatic rifles in common use.
The state GOP has auctioned some type of firearm at its spring gala for several years, Schipper said, but this is the first time the weapon has been an AR-15. Asked if that has political significance given the gun control debate, he replied: “Of course, it does.”
The winning bidder on the rifle also gets a free one-year membership in the Washington Arms Collectors, a National Rifle Association affiliate that has gun shows around the state.