July 25, 2007 / 1:04 PM / 10 years ago

Fundraiser to feature machine guns

BOSTON (Reuters) - A planned Republican fundraiser in New Hampshire aims to promote gun ownership in America by letting supporters fire powerful military-style weapons -- from Uzi submachine guns to M-16 rifles.

The Manchester Republican Committee is inviting party members and their families to a “Machine Gun Shoot” where, for $25, supporters can spend a day trying out automatic weapons, said organizer Jerry Thibodeau.

“It’s a fun day. It’s a family day,” said Thibodeau of the August 5 event. “It’s quite exciting.”

Local Democrats say the event is in poor taste amid a spike in violent crime in Manchester and seeks to glorify the use of machine guns for political gain. The right to own guns has come under heightened scrutiny since the April shooting at Virginia Tech where a gunman killed 32 people.

“It is downright offensive,” Chris Pappas, the Manchester Democratic party chairman, told the Union Leader newspaper.

Thibodeau said he invited all the Republican candidates in the 2008 presidential race to the event at Pelham Fish and Game Club outside of Manchester, the state’s largest city, but he said they declined. He said all shooters would undergo training.

Buying a gun in New Hampshire, whose official motto is “Live Free or Die,” is relatively easy.

The state does not require buyers to obtain a handgun license or undergo safety training before buying a handgun, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun-control lobby group.

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