Politics & Government

Mecklenburg Republicans recruit voters — at a gun show

Two weeks after mass shootings claimed 30 lives, Mecklenburg County Republicans are having a voter registration drive — at a gun show.

The party has asked for volunteers to register voters at this weekend’s Dixie Gun & Knife Show at Charlotte’s Park Expo & Conference Center.

“The Republican Party is hopelessly clueless,” said Democrat Malcolm Graham, a City Council candidate and former state senator. “This is the reason why they are the minority party in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.”

The weekend event comes as Democrats locally and nationally are pushing to enact universal background checks or even a new ban on semi-automatic assault-style weapons.

Graham, whose sister Cynthia Hurd was among the nine people killed in 2015 at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, is hosting a community meeting on gun violence Thursday night. He said 500 people are expected to gather at Johnson C. Smith University including U.S. Rep. Alma Adams and Sheriff Garry McFadden.

Mecklenburg Republican Chair Chris Turner did not respond to requests for an interview about the gun show.

In a statement, state GOP spokesman Jeff Hauser said, “Encouraging people to vote is not an issue. What is an issue is the fact that Dan McCready is raising money off of two very tragic shootings.”

McCready, a Democrat, is running against Republican Dan Bishop in the special 9th District election. McCready spokesman Matt Fried said the comment mischaracterizes his candidate’s email, which referred to Bishop’s endorsement from the National Rifle Association.

Politico reported Thursday that national gun control groups plan to hold rallies around the country this weekend. Two groups, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, are spending $1 million in TV and digital ads aimed at GOP senators, including Republicans Thom Tillis and Richard Burr of North Carolina.

Jane Whitley, Mecklenburg’s Democratic chair, had some advice for the GOP volunteers at this weekend’s gun show.

“I hope that they will also discuss common-sense gun violence prevention laws with these newly registered voters,” she said. “Democratic and Republican voters alike overwhelmingly support common-sense laws to help stop our country’s epidemic of gun violence.”