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Republican gun raffle in Giffords' county draws criticism

By Brad Poole

TUCSON, Ariz (Reuters) - The Republican Party in Representative Gabrielle Giffords' home county is raising eyebrows by raffling off a Glock handgun -- the same brand handgun with which Giffords, a Democrat, was shot through the head in January.

"When I first heard about this last week in an email, I said 'That's a joke, a sick joke. Nobody could be doing that,'" said Pima County Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Rogers.

"This is like tearing the scab off a wound. This community is still healing."

The county Republican organization announced the fund-raiser in its online newsletter, Tracks, on August 26.

"Get yourself a new Glock 23 .40 cal handgun for just 10 bucks -- if your name is drawn," the newsletter reads.

A picture of the handgun, being raffled with three 12-round magazines and a case, also appears in the newsletter. The Republicans are selling 125 tickets.

Mike Shaw, chairman pro tem of the Pima County Republicans, and Frank Antenori, a Republican state senator who has filed paperwork for a potential run against Giffords, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Jared Lee Loughner, 22, who has since been diagnosed with schizophrenia, is charged with shooting Giffords and 18 others with a Glock 19 handgun during a shopping center meet-and-greet January 8.

Six people died in the rampage before bystanders tackled Loughner, preventing him from reloading.

Giffords supports the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, said her spokesman Mark Kimble, though he could not confirm media reports that the congresswoman has owned a Glock handgun.

(Editing by Jerry Norton)

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