Northwest Missourian Opinion

 

College Republicans, a student organization on Northwest’s campus whose mission, in its own words, is “to make known and promote the principles of the Republican Party among the students.” 

Mission accomplished. The organization announced plans to raffle off 80% of an AR-15 Lower Receiver Nov. 4, sending a message to students, whether intended or otherwise, that is indeed loud and clear, and it certainly peddles the principles of the party the organization attaches itself to.

Northwest’s College Republicans group cares more about heightened publicity and increased fundraising than it does the safety of the campus and community. 

It is reasonably illegal to give away a full AR-15, which is why the organization isn’t doing so. It is unreasonably reckless to give away 80% of an AR-15 part , the same weapon used in recent, high-profile mass shootings like the one in a Parkland, Florida, high school that killed 17 people in February 2018. 

For just $10, the College Republicans’ poorly-designed, Student Affairs-approved flyer touts, anyone on campus or in the community can enter the raffle for a chance to win a part of the semi-automatic weapon, one more suitable for a battlefield than a deer stand, much less a college campus. The cost is discounted to $5 if you attend an upcoming meeting. 

The 80% of the AR-15 Lower Receiver is not legally considered a firearm in its current state, according to the organization's flyer. The raffle’s winner would have to purchase the other parts of the gun to possess an operational AR-15, which leaves this entire stunt only 80% as insane as it would be to raffle off a functioning rifle. 

The organization’s flyer promotes an upcoming event while poking fun at Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic presidential candidate who’s polling at or under 2% nationally in nearly every poll, and who made headlines in September when he said, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” onstage at the third Democratic presidential debate. 

“Hell, no, you Beto not!” the College Republicans quipped back in its flyer, one that unknowingly depicts just how misguided the organization really is on the topic. 

The reality is that giving away parts of a weapon of such magnitude does little to impede O’Rourke, who won’t be a serious candidate for the presidency by the time the primary races reach Missouri. It does even less for the advancement of the College Republicans’ undying, flawed support of the Second Amendment. 

Instead, all the flyer has done is spark a sense of outrage and alarm across the Northwest community, prompting a response to concerned alumni from University President Dr. John Jasinksi. 

Perhaps unintentionally, the College Republicans’ attention-grab has united every common-sense-having individual in the Northwest community through one collective train of thought that collides with the organization’s intended mission. That thought, of course, is, “What the hell were they thinking?” 

And the answer is they weren’t, or perhaps more accurately, they aren’t. 

Sell a bunch of raffle tickets to anyone who’ll buy one. Pull the winning number out of a bright-red “Make America Great Again” hat. Give the random winning contestant a portion of an AR-15 with instructions available online on how to purchase and assemble the rest. What could go wrong? 

It sounds like the setup to a bad joke, or worse, the plot to a violent horror movie that has somehow become our possible reality. The actualities of this promotion, one meant to emphasize the need for Second Amendment support, have instead emphasized a need for greater control.

The College Republicans are acting within their rights in possessing and giving away the gun in question. It’s entirely legal, which gives way to a more pressing question: should it be? The potential dangers far outweigh any inkling of good that may come with it.  

This organization’s gimmick, at best, seems like a savvy publicity ploy and an effective fundraiser. But there’s no chance it’s worth the potential cost.

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