Giuliani aide: Who knows if boss would have attended machine-gun fundraiser
For only $25, Republican party members attending a Manchester, New Hampshire, fundraiser scheduled for next month will get to spend the day on a firing range with some heavy-duty fire power, using some of the same machine guns as US troops fighting in Iraq.
The organizer for the August 5 "Machine Gun Shoot" told Reuters that it would be "a family day" event, while the Manchester Democratic party chairman believes it is "downright offensive." But despite Manchester Republican Committee chairman Jerry Thibodeau's best efforts, no 2008 GOP presidential candidates will be in attendance.
However, the campaign of one of the most pro-gun control Republican candidates left open the possibility that Rudy Giuliani might have attended the fundraiser, had its date not conflicted with a presidential candidates' debate in Iowa. ABC News is hosting a debate among all nine Republican candidates in Des Moines.
"Who knows what would've happened if it hadn't been for a scheduling conflict," Jeff Barker, a spokesman for the former New York mayor told RAW STORY.
Thibodeau lamented to the Union Leader that he "really tried to get Rudy Giuliani there...[b]ecause I'll tell you, this is a guy that can't relax."
Barker told RAW STORY the Giuliani campaign turned down the invitation because of the date conflict, and not because of its gun-centered theme. He noted Giuliani has participated in fundraisers with other state and local parties, including a fundraiser for the Michigan state GOP just a couple weeks ago.
It would be "hard to say" whether Giuliani, a longtime proponent of gun control, would participate in the fundraiser if it were held on a different day, Barker said.
While mayor of New York City, Giuliani lobbied for the federal assault weapons ban, which banned many types of semi-automatic weapons, such as the AR-15 and Uzi.
The ban, signed into law in 1994 despite been opposed by the country's largest gun lobbying group, the National Rifle Association, expired a decade later due to a sunset provision, but the Class III fully automatic weapons to be used at the fundraiser still can only be possessed by specially licensed dealers and collectors under older gun-control laws.
Recently, though, Giuliani has begun to modify his views on gun control as he seeks the 2008 nomination, telling audiences and interviewers that the gun control measures he strongly supported as a means of fighting crime in New York City during his tenure may not be appropriate for other areas of the country.
Giuliani reaffirmed his support for the 1994 assault weapons ban in an interview with Sean Hanity earlier this year. But, he told the Fox News host, "I understand the Second Amendment. I support it. People have the right to bear arms."
New Hampshire Republican supporters -- who would be voters in the nation's first primary -- will have the opportunity to fire several types of submachine guns, such as Uzis, and rifles including the M-16 used by US troops in Iraq.
Organizers of the Machine Gun Shoot are asking for a $25 donation to fire the guns, rentals of which will be available on site. Tickets to observe the event are $10.
The fundraiser prompted criticism from the city's Democratic party chairman, Chris Pappas, who said was "not just in bad taste; it is downright offensive."
"The citizens of Manchester have lived through a deadly spike in violent crime in the past year-and-a-half," Pappas told the Union Leader.
Most of the comments on the Union Leader's story supported the idea, but a few suggested the candidates are wise to stay away.
"What are the Republicans in this state THINKING? Are they so desparate [sic] for money or attention that they would resort to an activity that would resound with only their most extreme right fringe?" asks Jon Marion of Manchester. "If this is their attempt is to attract supporters, it is very misguided. Haven't they even looked or reflected at the disastrous results of last November's elections. This is a big step in the wrong direction."