Residents are pushing to have the gun show canceled, citing safety concerns for their community.
The Florida Republican Party is holding a voter registration drive at a gun show in the state the weekend following mass shootings 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," the Tampa Bay Times reported on Thursday.
"This is a great opportunity to engage the community and promote the values that make this country strong, prosperous, safe and great!" the official told supporters.
The party was unapologetic.
"We can't let a sick, deranged individual like that shooter impact the normal democratic process," Florida Republican Party Chair Joe Gruters told the outlet.
The venue, Charles Dodge City Center, is within driving distance of Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, where a 2018 mass shooting took place. It is a taxpayer-funded location.
"Donald Trump and the Florida Republican Party's actions are shocking," Juan Penalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, told Shareblue Media in a statement.
"It's dangerous and frankly unbelievable that the Trump campaign and Florida GOP would use a gun show to promote voter registration after a weekend of back-to-back mass shootings."
"It is more evidence that they are in the pocket of the NRA and completely out of touch with the American people."
Local residents have been attempting to have the show moved away. At a meeting of the city commission on Thursday, they spoke out.
"The City Center Pembroke Pines should never be the place for a gun show that sells weapons of war," Lourdes Diaa said.
"More guns in a community means more gun deaths and more gun injuries," resident Barbara Markley told local station WSVN.
City commissioners told residents they would rather not host the show, but the agreement they signed with the promoter means the event has to take place.
"Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo said having the gun show in the city is offensive considering the massacres that just happened in El Paso and Dayton, but he said state lawmakers are making it impossible," reported WSVN.
The same promoter, Florida Gun Shows, had its contract with the city of Fort Lauderdale canceled last year after the Parkland shooting.
"The city wants the gun shows out because of safety concerns in the city park and the negative image of having a city building host gun events," reported the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Those concerns don’t seem to be on the radar of Florida Republicans, nor do they seem to have any concerns about the event's proximity to mass shootings. Getting a political leg up is their chief concern.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.