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Florida Republican Party to hold voter registration at gun show one week after mass shootings

‘We can’t let a sick, deranged individual like that shooter impact the normal democratic process,’ the state party chairman said.
AR-15 style guns are displayed at the In Guns We Trust LLC booth during the Tampa Gun Show Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 at the State Fairgrounds. Republicans will try to register voters at a gun show this weekend in Pembroke Pines. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
AR-15 style guns are displayed at the In Guns We Trust LLC booth during the Tampa Gun Show Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 at the State Fairgrounds. Republicans will try to register voters at a gun show this weekend in Pembroke Pines. [CHRIS URSO | Times]
Published Aug. 8, 2019
Updated Aug. 8, 2019

The Republican Party of Florida is planning to hold two voter registration drives at a South Florida gun show one week after two mass shootings ended with 31 people dead in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

The party’s regional field director emailed supporters Thursday asking for volunteers to help register voters at the Pembroke Pines gun show that will take place Saturday and Sunday.

“This is a great opportunity to engage the community and promote the values that make this country strong, prosperous, safe and great!” the email said.

The timing of the Pembroke Pines gun show has already drawn concerns from local residents, who have called the event insensitive to last weekend’s gun violence. City commissioners said they don’t want to host the gun show, but they already signed a contract to hold it at a city-owned venue, according to WFOR in Miami.

Pembroke Pines is also just a half hour away from Parkland, where a shooter killed 17 students and staff at local high school in February 2018.

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Republican Party chairman Joe Gruters said they didn’t consider cancelling or postponing the voter registration drive because “we can’t let a sick, deranged individual like that shooter impact the normal democratic process.”

“We’re going to target law abiding citizens and hopefully we’ll pick up some new registrations there,” said Gruters, a state senator from Sarasota. “We’re not going to let unfortunate incidents that are incredibly sad and terrible effect our efforts.”

In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Juan Peñalosa said holding a GOP event at a gun show right now was “dangerous and frankly unbelievable.”

“It is more evidence that they are in the pocket of the NRA and completely out of touch with the American people,” Peñalosa said.

The party will also hold voter registration drives in Plantation and Fort Lauderdale this weekend.

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