PORTLAND – The Multnomah County Republican Party announced Monday plans to raffle off an AR-15 assault-style rifle to celebrate slain American icons Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.
The press release from the county party reads, in part:
"Multnomah Country Republicans recognize the incredible time of year we are in. In successive months to start the year, we celebrate the legacy of two great Republicans who demonstrated leadership and courage that all of us still lean on today: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. In celebrating these two men, and the denial of the rights they fought so hard against, the Multnomah County Republican Party announces that we have started our third raffle for an AR-15 rifle (or handgun of the winner’s choice). The drawing will be held at our Lincoln Day Dinner on February 15th, 2014. Tickets are once again $10 a piece, or 12 for $100, and there is a hard cap of 500 tickets in the raffle.
Multnomah County GOP Chairman Jeff Reynolds said, “We are here to reaffirm our strong defense of the Second Amendment and the right to personal protection. The Bill of Rights is inviolable, despite what the gun-grabbers in Salem might try.”
The AR-15 is the type of rifle that’s been used in several high-school shootings across the country. The party said it's celebrating the two Republicans, trying to bring in some cash and making a statement about gun rights.
The dinner is Feb. 15. Tickets are $10 a piece or 12 for $100.
"We are allowed to be armed,” said Anne Marie Gurney of the Multnomah County GOP. “And however we want to use that [right], whether we want to hunt, whether we want to protect ourselves, or whatever, to celebrate our rights."
Some Portland residents said it’s not the right way to honor Lincoln and King.
"Because they died from an assassin's bullet,” Kathy Samuelson said. “It doesn't seem appropriate that that would be the kind of gift or prize to be raffling off."
Bill Wood thought maybe another prize could have been selected.
“It probably wasn’t a good choice to raffle a gun off,” said Wood. “They could think of something else I’m sure.”
The first 500 tickets sold out quickly. If the party sells another 500, another prize AR-15 will be awarded.
The winner will be given a background check before receiving the weapon.
Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, but Martin Luther King Jr. did not publicly endorse political parties at a time when the issue of segregation split the Democratic Party in the south in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Second Amendment refers to a "right to bear arms" in connection with maintaining a “well-regulated militia." In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly upheld a traditional view that the amendment relates to personal self-defense and that restriction on the regulating of arms can extend to state and local governments.
Dave Northfield contributed to this report.