The season of holidays gatherings is upon us but the raffle prize at one holiday party has some scratching their heads.
District 26 Republicans get together once a month, and also during the holidays. The holiday gathering also happens to be four days before the anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"We don't do raffles hardly at all, mainly for Christmas and for shock value," joked Craig Ray.
While some joke about the raffle, members of the District 26 Republican committee, which represents Mesa and Tempe, said the message is serious. They want to raise awareness for their constitutional right to bear arms - even an assault rifle.
"We need to protect ourselves," Denna Ray said. "There are too many people behind weapons."
"My attitude's always been, the more guns, the safer," Stephen Ray said.
But the timing of the raffle has some scratching their heads, because it was held days before the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre.
"To raffle off an AR15, a military-style assault rifle, the same rifle used to murder those children almost a year ago, is completely inappropriate," said District 26 Democratic committee chairman Randy Keating in response. His group is collecting money for a group called Arizonans for gun safety.
"No one's denying it's their right to do this," said Keating. "We all have rights to do things that are incredibly poor taste."
The chairman of the Republican committee, Raymond Jones, said it's pure coincidence and wasn't malicious.
"That was a tragedy last year, there's actually many tragedies throughout the world, throughout the U.S., different times of the year. The AR15 raffle has nothing to do with that anniversary," Jones said.
While the person who won the rifle tonight wasn't present, had they been, a federally licensed dealer could have submitted the background check on the spot so they could leave with the firearm. Jones said they held a similar raffle six months ago.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:11 AM EDT2014-07-29 14:11:15 GMT
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