25.02.2018 Feature Article

Baffled by gun raffles

Melissa MartinMelissa Martin
25.02.2018 LISTEN

Frankly, my brain in confused, befuddled, and perplexed that a public school, fire station, or a congressional candidate would raffle off any gun, let alone an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. The Boomtown Bash fundraiser in Nitro, West Virginia, includes an AR-15 as a prize; the other weapons in the raffle are reported to be hunting guns. Gun raffles, what?

There's more humane ways to make money. Why not raffle an IPAD, flat screen television, or a Chevy truck? It's reported that parenting are allowing 7-9 year old kids to sell gun tickets for one fund-raising event. What? Go back to selling popcorn, candles, or candy bars. My bewildered brain asks why community residents would participate. I am baffled over any type of gun raffle anywhere, anytime, for any reason. I guess you get my point.

Do hunters use the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to hunt? They would have instant deerburgers in the middle of the woods—without buns or condiments. AR stands for Armalite Rifle, but it is considered an assault riffle.

However, according to an article at ,“In interviews with TIME, leaders of 15 state shooting groups said semiautomatic rifles are popular with hunters in their states…The semiautomatic feature, which allows these guns to shoot up to 45 rounds a minute, is not always necessary, but useful in some situations, hunters say.”

In what situation would a hunter need to fire 45 rounds per minute and at what animal? That's my question.

On its webpage, the NRA lists 10 Reasons To Own An AR-15 and calls those who disagree “ignorant.” The author writes, “Women are currently the fastest-growing demographic in the shooting sports, and the AR-15 is doubtless one of the reasons why. Women love the “cool factor” of the AR just as much as men do. And those with zero shooting experience—who might harbor some fear of rifle shooting because of a rifle's perceived “kick”—quickly learn that the soft-recoiling AR-15 is not only a pleasure to shoot, but fun to customize just the way they want it.”

As a woman, I'll pass on owning an AR-15 and forego the pleasure.

However, I support the right to bear arms as stated in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The amendment reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” However, not until 2008, did the U.S. supreme court back an individual's right to keep a weapon at home for self-defense.

However, gun raffles signal a lack of respect for the power of what a weapon can do—kill people. And putting profits over people is just wrong. Raffle bicycles, laptops, or cell phones; things kids can use. Raffle vacations, cash prizes, or tickets to the World Series, but not guns. Raffle spa treatments, sports memorabilia, or a year of free pizza, but not guns.

If Americans fail to use common sense and continue to raffle AR-15 guns or any type of guns, then controversy will continue. The other option is for Americans to refuse to buy gun raffle tickets.

On February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 17 people were killed by a former student with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. That's why no rifle raffles.

“There is a recognition that Second Amendment rights, like First Amendment and other rights, come with responsibilities and limitations. There is no reason both sides of the gun debate can't support policies that both protect the right to legally own guns for sport and safety and reduce the likelihood of mass fatalities,” writes Randi Weingarten.

I agree.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She resides in Ohio, USA. .