It’s not easy for a politician to get anybody’s attention these days. So congratulations to former state Sen. Eric Brakey, who has found a way to cut through the information fog bank.

The Republican candidate in the 2020 race to run against U.S. Rep. Jared Golden in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District made news last week announcing a fundraising promotion in which he will conduct a random drawing from among his most committed donors. The winner will get an AR-15 rifle.

He’s got our attention, but not in a good way. This is an immature stunt designed to inflame emotions on both sides of the gun debate just to grab a few headlines for himself. It’s also a crass distortion of the values held by responsible gun owners, who during the 2016 background check referendum campaign fought for their ability to lend guns to family and friends without restriction, not for the right to arm random strangers.

It’s no coincidence that Brakey has chosen the AR-15 for his prize. It’s become the favorite weapon of mass shooters and the leading target of gun control advocates’ proposed assault weapons bans. At last month’s Democratic presidential debate, former Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke outlined his plan to make all assault rifles illegal, and conduct mandatory buy-back programs that could send police on house-to-house search and seizure operations. The candidate grabbed headlines by saying, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15 …”

O’Rourke’s plan is unrealistic and possibly extreme. It is unlikely to win majority support in both houses of Congress, no matter which party is in control, and did not receive much backing from the 11 other candidates on the debate stage.

But Brakey’s response is just plain dumb. There is a legitimate debate to be had over whether we would be safer if there were fewer guns around, but there is no debate over whether it’s a good idea to distribute guns at random.

The raffle idea is not even original. Political gun giveaways have become a fixture in right-wing politics for years. Starting one is a sure way to get a big response on social media for “owning the libs” by provoking outrage.

But if he wants to go to Congress, Brakey should learn how to act responsibly and give the impression that he knows how to address serious issues that divide the nation just about in half.

Gun violence is not funny, and politicians should not treat it like a joke.

 

 

 


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