The Multnomah County Republican Party announced this week it will hold its annual Labor Day picnic at Blue Lake Park, as part of a fundraising push for the 2020 elections.
The announcement is pretty standard:
"Chairman James Buchal and others will speak on the coming political battles we face," the annoucement says. "You can defend America and provide a good time for your entire family all at once."
But when you go to the party website to learn more about the fundraising activities, there's also this: a raffle for Ruger AR-556 "Pistol."
Although the weapon (which is more than 25 inches long) looks different from what Webster's defines as a pistol—"a small firearm made to be held and fired with one hand"—it turns out that gun manufacturers in recent years have used what's called a "pistol brace" to extend the length of a traditional pistol.
In the wake of a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio over the weekend, in which a man named Connor Betts allegedly killed nine people, the Cincinnati Enquirer examined a loophole in federal firearm regulations that make such weapons legal.
"Even though it looked like a rifle, the gun [Betts] used to kill nine people and wound at least 14 more was likely classified as a pistol, skirting around laws restricting short-barreled rifles," the Enquirer reported. "Will the device on Connor Betts' weapon, called a "pistol brace," become the next bump stock in nation's gun control debate?"
Buchal, the Multnomah GOP chair, says the description of the weapon as a pistol isn't up to him or the party.
"We use the manufacturer's name for the product," Buchal says in an email. "Doing otherwise could be characterized as misleading."
As for the appearance of raffling off the gun in after a spate of mass shootings, Buchal notes he posted the raffle on July 28, which was the day of a mass shooting in Gilroy, Calif, and before the shootings in El Paso and Dayton.
He does not intend to cancel or alter the fundraiser.
"The continued existence of a free people requires civilian familiarity and comfort with weapons. Deeming civilian contact with them inappropriate advances the Leftist premise that only governmental agents may bear arms," Buchal says.
"Assisting law-abiding Americans who pass a background check in defending themselves and others does not increase the risk of tragedies like Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton. Those who seek to reduce those risks should focus their attention on Leftist policies destroying families, morality and accountability under the criminal and civil justice systems, and vote Republican."