An Oregon County Republican Party group is raffling off an AR-15 rifle in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and President Abraham Lincoln.
The Multnomah County Republicans announced the raffle as a celebration of "the legacy of two great Republicans who demonstrated leadership and courage" and "the denial of the rights they fought so hard against."
Despite the Multnomah County Republicans' claim to the contrary, King was not a Republican, and denied any party affiliation.
The raffle will be held next month at the group's Lincoln Day Dinner, where Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's father and conservative firebrand Rafael Cruz is scheduled to speak. Cruz might have trouble with King's legacy and ideals, were he to investigate them thoroughly, since he regularly rails against Pres. Obama's "socialist" efforts, while King advocated a guaranteed income for the jobless and a redistribution of economic power to benefit the poor in his time.
“We are here to reaffirm our strong defense of the Second Amendment and the right to personal protection. The Bill of Rights is inviolable, despite what the gun-grabbers in Salem might try," Multnomah County GOP Chairman Jeff Reynolds said in a statement.
The Portland-based GOP group is not the first to tout gun rights in connection with King. Last year Larry Ward, a gun activist behind Gun Appreciation Day, argued that King would have supported gun rights and that if he had owned a gun he might have prevented his own assassination.
Ward joined Rev. Al Sharpton on PoliticsNation in Jan. 2013 to debate that very issue, and Sharpton pointed out that King was in fact a staunch advocate for gun control.
"You do realize that Martin Luther King was killed by a gun and that he preached all of his life against the use of any weapons and preached turn the other cheek? So you do realize that what you said was the total antithesis to Dr. King?" Sharpton said.
Gun activists regularly point to Dr. King's decision to apply for a concealed carry permit as a sign that he strongly supported gun rights, but a closer look reveals otherwise.
"How could I serve as one of the leaders of a nonviolent movement and at the same time use weapons of violence for my personal protection?" he wrote of that incident in his autobiography. "Coretta and I talked the matter over for several days and finally agreed that arms were no solution. We decided then to get rid of the one weapon we owned. We tried to satisfy our friends by having floodlights mounted around the house, and hiring unarmed watchmen around the clock."
Gun activists in the Portland-area have come under fire for their gun appreciation efforts in the past. This time last year residents became agitated when two activists carried assault rifles around the city.