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Albany bill would outlaw use of guns as raffle prizes

State Sen. James Gaughran (D-Northport) says "glorifying guns

State Sen. James Gaughran (D-Northport) says "glorifying guns with a raffle doesn't make any sense." Credit: James Escher

ALBANY — Sen. James Gaughran on Monday co-sponsored a bill to outlaw raffles of legal firearms, such as the monthlong, daily raffle in Nassau County of hunting rifles as well as a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol and an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.

An advocate for legal gun owners, however, says the raffle bill has a hidden intent: To end a major fundraising tool for gun owner organizations.

The bill would add firearms to a law that already prohibits alcohol from being used as prizes in raffles. The bill introduced by Assemb. Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn) in January has 30 majority co-sponsors, but hasn’t progressed past its first committee, the Racing and Wagering Committee.

“I fully support the Second Amendment, but glorifying guns with a raffle doesn’t make any sense,” Gaughran (D-Northport) said Monday. “It sends a bad message to the public … if you can’t raffle off alcohol, maybe it’s time you can’t raffle off guns.”

The Nassau County Friends of the National Rifle Association tells those who buy raffle tickets to its annual monthlong “gun-a-day” fundraiser that winners must comply with all state and federal law, which include background checks. Raffle tickets are $20 and are nontransferrable.

Winners of each day’s raffle have their choice of 30 firearms and related items. They include a Remington 870 Super Magnum, which the manufacturer said is designed for turkey and waterfowl hunting, a Marlin 336 youth “designed for a young hunter to take their very first deer,” a Henry Classic Lever Action .22 “Western-style lever-action rifle” popular with collectors, and a StrikeFire II rifle optic sight the maker says is best “when situations demand split-second target acquisition and maximum field of view … shoot — with both eyes open.”

A spokesman for the organization didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“This is an out-and-out backdoor method of gun control,” said Tom King, of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. “One of the things I think the (legislators) are going to run into trouble with here is that many, many other organizations raffle off guns, like volunteer fire departments and the Free Masons.”

“All New York State regulations are followed,” King said of the raffles. “They are not sold to people who are underage, not sold to criminals, everyone has to go through a background check.”

“This is not aimed at just raffling,” he said. “It’s aimed at preventing gun clubs and gun organizations from making money. For many gun clubs, it’s the number one source of funding.”

Simon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The bill could see action in the legislative session beginning Jan. 1.

Her bill states: “Firearms-related violence is a significant public health and safety problem and weapons should not be given away in games of chance.”

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