April 11, 2013;

While Republicans are still trying to get to the bottom of why their party’s “message” is not being heard by the people of America, here is a clue. According to a number of news sources, the GOP in the state of Washington is auctioning off an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle to raise money. This is, of course, the same style of weapon used by Adam Lanza in his assault on an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, an event that left the nation reeling in horror.

A Tweet from State Republican Chairman Kirby Wilbur reads, “Last call for state GOP auction Saturday in Bellevue: We have great items including an AR15.”

The U.S. Senate, ironically, has just made the decision to take up gun safety legislation, including proposals for bans on such weapons.

Wilbur explained in an email to the Seattle Times that the auctioning of the AR15 “is intended as a pro-fund-raising statement. I think folks already know the state GOP is committed to gun rights…It is also the best selling weapon in America. I own two. They have never killed an innocent person.”

State Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz seemed to disagree, saying, “We don’t believe in assault weapons: We think they should be banned….We would never raise money from the oil industry, or the tobacco industry, nor would we auction off an assault rifle.”

NPQ has talked repeatedly about considering the situation carefully before your nonprofit makes public statements that are bound to divide constituents. Let’s see how the GOP’s constituents react.—Ruth McCambridge