Illinois Democrats are assailing a gun raffle planned by the Kendall County Republican Party that features a high-powered semi-automatic rifle similar to the one used in the Highland Park July 4 mass shooting.
“The Democratic Party of Illinois and the Kendall County Democratic Party jointly condemn the use of this assault weapon in the gun raffle and call on Illinois Republicans to cease the use of assault weapons in political fundraisers,” read a statement from the state party.
“The idea of raffling off an assault weapon to someone in my community is appalling,” Kendall County Democratic Party Chairman Brooke Shanley said.
“It is just plain wrong to use a gun this similar to the one used in the Highland Park shooting for a political fundraiser,” Shanley said.
Law enforcement officials have said that the Highland Park shooting suspect, Robert Crimo III, 21, used a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 to kill seven people and injure dozens more last week. Officials said he legally purchased the weapon.
Kendall County Republican Party Chairman James Marter was making no apologies and attacked Democrats as opportunists.
“They want to take away the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” Marter said.
The raffle has been planned for months, Marter said. The prizes include the Smith & Wesson 5.56/.223, along with a shot gun and two handguns. Tickets for the raffle are $20 each.
The raffle is set for July 24 at a Kendall County Republican Party event at a Yorkville restaurant.
“The solution is not more gun laws,” Marter said. “We need to do a better job of protecting people.”
Shanley presented Democrats as taking a reasonable view on guns.
“We do not oppose responsible gun ownership, but we also do not need more military-style assault weapons in Kendall County,” Shanley said.
“We ask the Kendall County Republican Party to cancel this gun raffle out of respect to the people of Highland Park and out of respect for our community and its safety,” Shanley continued.
Marter said the raffle will go ahead. He said the party is adhering to rules for the raffle from the Illinois State Board of Elections and that all gun laws and regulations are being followed.
Democrats noted that GOP gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey raffled off an AR-15 rifle at a campaign fundraiser.
“Our nation and our state are facing an epidemic of gun violence and the horrific attack in Highland Park is a tragic reminder that we have so much more work to do,” Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Robin Kelly said.
“It is inappropriate and offensive for the Kendall County Republican Party to raffle off an assault weapon at a political fundraiser, especially a gun so similar to the one used to take seven innocent lives in Highland Park just one week ago,” Kelly said.
“We call on the Illinois Republican Party and the Kendall County Republican Party to show some compassion and common sense by calling off this gun raffle and ceasing the use of assault weapons in future political fundraisers and other events,” Kelly said.
Capitol News Illinois contributed.
Source: The Daily Chronicle