The Chatham County GOP still plans to raffle off firearms this election season, just not at The Barn at Fearrington.
The Republican Party had announced plans to sell 100 $50 tickets to win either a Ruger 5.56 rifle or a Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun during a Sept. 10 meet-the-candidates event at Fearrington Village outside Pittsboro.
Some people criticized the raffle for offering the Ruger, the same type of rifle used to kill 26 people in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, two years go.
Efforts to reach GOP leaders, who had announced the fundraiser soon after gunmen killed 31 people and injured dozens more in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, were unsuccessful.
On Monday the GOP said it had changed its plans.
Fearrington Village does not allow fundraisers at the Barn, it said on the Chatham Chatlist and on the party’s Facebook page.
“The Chatham GOP is revulsed and dismayed at the recent criminal mass shootings,” the post said. “Such actions must stop.”
But it defended the decision to sell tickets to win the weapons.
“Chatham County is a southern rural county and many of its citizens — Republican, Democrat, or Independent — have and use firearms for target shooting and for hunting,” it said. “The two kinds of firearms in our raffle, a modern sporting rifle and a shotgun, are widely owned. Many Chatham citizens would like to win one of these firearms.”
The party also said it supports the Second Amendment and opposes any effort to confiscate guns or further restrict legal gun owners’ rights.
The Sept. 10 event will go on. The GOP will be holding the raffle at a different time and location later this fall.
In an email Tuesday, a Fearrington Village representative said Fearrington asked that the raffle be removed from the program.
“Fearrington has donated the barn to both the Democratic and Republican parties for their events for many years and until this event, we have never had cause to question or otherwise intervene in either groups’ agendas, feeling that these events opened up important public forums for our fellow Chatham County residents to better know what is going on in our county and beyond,” Kerstin Lindgren, marketing and public relations manager, wrote in the email
“When we learned of the raffle in a news story on Friday morning, we reached out to our contact at the Chatham County GOP right away and asked that the raffle portion of their event be removed from the agenda,” she wrote.