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When the United Way of Otero County New Mexico began their 2017 calendar firearms raffle, one group stepped up to shut their charitable efforts down completely.

Aiming to raise $150,000 (minus the cost of background checks on the winners), the Otero County United Way designed and printed 3,000 calendars – each selling for $50 and each featuring a raffle entry ticket entitling the purchaser two weekly entries into their firearms raffle.

The idea was a win/win. People eager to donate $50 to a worthy cause further incentivized by the lure of winning a bevy of ballistic beauties throughout the year; from a Barrett M95 .50 BMG rifle in January to an H&R 12 gauge hunting shotgun in September.

The group also clearly stated that all guns would be (legally) transferred to the winners through the Western True Value of Alamogordo, a licensed firearms dealer.

But that’s just not good enough for some people.

As soon as Miranda Viscoli with New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence Co-President got wind of the raffle, she took it upon herself to send a strongly-worded letter to United Way Worldwide to let the organization know what Otero County was up to. That letter ultimately led to a suspension of the raffle.

“Basically putting 104 firearms back into a state where gun violence is destroying our communities,” Viscoli said. “It’s unconscionable. It has nothing to do with what United Way is about. They’re paving the road for other United Way branches to hold raffles.”

Why? Because she doesn’t like the law.

“They say the people who win will go through background checks,” Viscoli said. “That doesn’t matter for so many reasons, one our background checks system in this state is completely broken and two that person can win the firearm then turnaround and sell it.”

“We don’t have universal background checks,” Viscoli said, then further implied winners would turn around and sell their guns to terrorists or convicted felons. “For them to say they do a background check is absurd. God forbid any of those firearms are involved in crime what if it goes straight back to United Way. It’s a public nightmare.”

Fortunately, calmer (more rational) heads prevailed and the United Way ultimately lifted the suspension of the gun raffle.

“We are very excited to refocus our efforts towards raising money for the 13 partner agencies that United Way of Otero County supports” President of the United Way of Otero County Josh Beug said. “Our partner agencies make a real difference in the lives of Otero County residents. We are proud to be able to continue to help them financially.” Beug said. Although they’ve had to change their marketing efforts of the raffle slightly, “the rules will stay the same, the prizes will stay the same and all tickets that have been sold will be honored.”

I don’t know about you, but it sure makes me want to buy one of their calendars to support their campaign! The calendars can be purchased at the United Way of Otero County office, 1601 E. 10th St., or at Western True Value, 412 Ninth St., or by calling them at (575) 437-0660.