To encourage citizens to attend its June 11 “Big Tent” candidate debate, Teller Country Republican Party will be once again giving away a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle to the winner of its “Awesome Silent Auction.”  

The southern Colorado Republican group is not only publicizing the chance to win an assault rifle, but also the “Mouthwatering BBQ Food, and Complimentary Beer and Wine Bar” that will be offered at the event.  

The event is meant for Republican voters who live in Teller County to meet the candidates running for office and will raise money for the party. All announced candidates have been invited, but as of right now the confirmed candidates are:

7th Congressional District: Erik Aadland, Laurel Imer, Timothy Reichert

Secretary of State: Pam Anderson, Mike O’Donnell, Tina Peters

U.S. Senate: Ron Hanks

Attorney General Candidate: John Kellner

State Board of Education At-Large: Dan Maloit

60th House District: Stephanie Luck

4th Senate District: Mark Baisley

Current 2nd Senate District:, running for Senate District 11 Dennis Hisey

Currently none of the GOP candidates for Governor are scheduled to appear. Neither CU Regent Heidi Ganahl, who spoke at last year’s event, prior to officially declaring her candidacy, nor Greg Lopez, the topline gubernatorial hopeful, have confirmed.

Tickets are available online for $40 and anyone under the age of 16 will be allowed in for free with the purchase of an adult ticket. 

The featured rifle is a Palmetto State Armory PA-15 with a 16″ barrel, the minimum length legally allowed without the weapon being considered a short barrel rifle subject to additional federal regulation, including registration.

Asked if there had been any discussion of canceling the rifle giveaway in light of yesterday’s massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that took the lives of at least 21 people, including 19 children, Teller GOP chair Ross Parnow stated that the rifle “wasn’t used in the Texas shooting.”

Parnow also confirmed that the thirty-round magazine decorated with the Teller GOP logo that comes with the rifle includes a capacity reducer to make the magazine comply with Colorado’s 15-round limit. Parnow says that the transaction is handled by a federal firearms licensed dealer, which requires the winner pass a background check, and he noted that Teller Republicans have conducted similar fundraising raffles for many years. The Colorado Times Recorder covered the party’s 2018 raffle which also featured an AR-15.

The Teller Republicans aren’t the only local GOP group that uses military-style semi-automatic weapons as a prize to raise money. In May 2018, the El Paso County Republican Party gave away two semi-automatic AR-15 rifles at their Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser.

On May 24, 2022, President Joe Biden called for action against the gun violence. “I am sick and tired of it,” he said during a press conference. “We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage, why do we keep letting this happen?”

Biden also asked, “Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with and stand up to the lobbies?”  

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser yesterday also issued a statement on the shooting.

“Once again, we are in shock and disbelief with the news of another mass shooting, this time at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. My heart goes out to the families grieving the unimaginable loss of a young child,” said Weiser.

“We must find a path forward to curtail the scourge of gun violence, identify threats, and put protections in place to save lives. Just today, I was speaking with students and faculty at Golden High School who are promoting connections between peers and caring adults and building a safer community because they care for each other. We all can learn something from these kids. Schools should be a place of learning, growth, and support, not horrific gun violence. Enough is enough.”

Reporter Erik Maulbetsch contributed to this article.