Lake County Dem chair: Gun raffle would be in 'devastatingly poor taste' after Uvalde shooting

A Lake County Democratic leader has called on the Lake Villa Township Republican Club to cancel a planned raffle of five guns scheduled as part of a fundraiser.

Lauren Beth Gash, Lake County Democrats' chair and Democratic state central committeewoman, said she was stunned Republicans would hold a raffle "that glorifies AR-15 type weapons" during a national gun violence epidemic and on the heels of the shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.

Republicans refuse to help Democrats pass common sense gun safety reforms and canceling "this offensive gun raffle is literally the least Lake County Republicans can do," she said in a statement.

"This raffle is in devastatingly poor taste," Gash added.

A Facebook post that included a link to a description of the weapons being raffled has been removed, according to Dick Barr, vice chair of the Republican organization and a Lake County Board member.

Barr said he removed the post. "It was a hard decision to cancel the raffle unilaterally, without the consent of the board, but I felt it was the appropriate decision in light of the tragic circumstances, out of respect for the families.

"I have to talk with my colleagues," he said.

The gun raffle was scheduled to cap the club's annual fundraiser featuring a golf outing and dinner at the Fox Lake Country Club.

Raffle participants pay $20 per ticket for a chance to win one of five guns. They must be 21 or older and have a valid Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Card to claim the prize.

Barr said it was his idea to hold a gun raffle to raise funds for five high school scholarships the club provides annually.

"Scholarships was the stimulus for the gun raffle. We do fundraisers all the time," he said.

The club's committee approved the idea March 24, according to Barr.

The organization buys the weapons from a licensed firearms dealer and raffle winners present their tickets at the gun shop. Winners are required to present a FOID card and pass a background check.

A description of the weapons linked to the Facebook post Barr removed included an Anderson AM15 forged rifle described as an "AR-15 type."

"These are state-licensed people who go through a background check to buy a legal product," Barr said. "It was not an easy decision to take it (the post) down unilaterally."

Gash said preventable gun violence should not be accepted as "some inevitable, incidental consequence of a constitutional right to bear arms.

"The Lake Villa GOP's flippant handout of deadly weapons meant for quickly killing people is shocking on multiple grounds," she said.

"Firearms - as any responsible gun owner knows and clearly agrees with - should not be distributed in the same manner as stuffed animals at a carnival."

Barr said he saw some of the comments in a Capitol Fax story.

"I thought it was hyperbolic and politically motivated," he said. "This was decided on in March."

Gash called on Lake County Republicans to "join us in the fight to work in a serious manner to prevent gun violence."

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