Gun raffles stoke debate after Conn. shooting
Gun giveaways are an attractive way to make money or draw in customers. But in the wake of the shooting rampage in a Connecticut school, such raffles are drawing criticism.
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While the Newtown shooting has intensified the criticism of the chiefs' raffle, other giveaways have had similarly inauspicious timing.Skip to next paragraph
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After a 2011 shooting rampage in Arizona wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others, the county Republican Party raffled off a Glock handgun to raise money for voter outreach. Its slogan was "Help Pima GOP get out the vote and maybe help yourself to a new Glock." The county GOP interim chairman said at the time he didn't think there was anything inappropriate about the promotion.
Missouri state Rep. John McCaherty raised campaign funds last August by raffling off an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a month after a similar gun was used in the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting that killed 12 people and wounded 58. McCaherty didn't return calls seeking comment.
The owner of an Atlanta-area sporting goods store doesn't understand the outrage.
Last November, Jay Wallace offered anyone who brought their "I Voted" sticker a raffle ticket to win a handgun or rifle from his store, Adventure Outdoors. When Georgia's secretary of state pointed out it's a felony to offer gifts for votes, Wallace opened it up to anyone.
Wallace said the whole thing had been resolved by the time a local state senator filed a complaint about the raffle with the state, setting off a barrage of publicity.
"It was really unbelievable — it made it around the world," he told the Associated Press. "Thousands of people signed up for the raffle. We were really grateful to him."
Wallace said he sees no problem with chiefs of police or anybody else raffling guns.
"It's going to a good cause," Wallace said. "People want a chance to win something that they want. Everybody wins."
Jack Kimball, chairman of Granite State Patriots and organizer of a rally outside the New Hampshire statehouse last month opposing gun control, said it angers him that people are using Sandy Hook and other tragic shootings to bash the New Hampshire chiefs.
"It's hysteria that doesn't belong here," said Kimball. "They shouldn't wavier. They should have the raffle."
The gun raffle is the first held by the chiefs association and could be the last if Robert Sprague gets his way.
The marketing consultant wrote Donovan 31 emails — one for every gun being raffled — before he finally heard back. Although he couldn't stop this year's raffle, Sprague said Donovan seemed open to his offer of help to promote a different kind of fundraiser next year.
"I feel we've made some progress, and that's better than no progress," Sprague said. "I just don't think peace officers should be putting guns on the streets."
Sprague discussed his concerns on WNHN radio, which began its own fundraising campaign to try to raise $30,000 for the cadet academy so the association wouldn't have to raffle the guns.
"If we aren't successful, we're going to donate the money to organizations that serve victims of gun violence," station manager Brian Beihl said.
Any ticket holders disappointed at not winning a firearm in the chiefs association drawing might consider buying a ticket for the Cheshire County Shooting Sports Education Foundation raffle. It's giving away a gun a day in June.