When the folks at the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce in Baldwin County, Alabama, decided they wanted to do something to help out small businesses struggling with coronavirus closures, they hit upon the idea of a raffle. Over a ten-day period, the Chamber of Commerce will raffle off a number of items, but there are a few things on the list that have at least one gun control activist demanding a change.
“In the mornings, we’ll be giving away 10 different prizes. It’ll be gear, Yeti cups, fishing rods, and things like that. In the afternoons, we’ll be giving away a gun every day,” said Cameron Lewis, Membership Development Manager for the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce.
Lewis said revenue from the hundreds of people who purchased a $50 ticket will go toward a relief program for small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
It sounds like a great idea, and according to Lewis the raffle has been a big hit, but the fact that firearms are being raffled off has a local gun control activist up in arms (figuratively speaking, of course).
Donna Orchard is the leader of the Baldwin County chapter of Mom’s Demand Action, a national group calling for stricter gun laws. She worries the firearms could end up in the wrong hands.
“Why are we giving guns out as prizes? I don’t understand that. I’m concerned that every gun we’re giving away has a federal background check,” said Orchard.
Why are they raffling off firearms? Probably because they’re popular items, and the whole goal of the raffle is to sell as many tickets as possible. The Chamber of Commerce’s Lewis says that every firearm will go through a background check conducted by a local gun store before it’s transferred, so Orchard’s concern about background checks is unfounded. Still, she’s objecting to the raffle because it involves guns.
This isn’t a “common sense” position to take, but merely anti-gun extremism. As WPMI-TV notes, hundreds of individuals have already purchased raffle tickets, and since the TV station couldn’t find anyone criticizing the raffle besides the Moms Demand Action volunteer, something tells me that this really isn’t causing any sort of controversy in the community. This seems to me to be more of a case of a local news station trying to create a controversy in order to cover it, and Orchard was ready and willing to play along.
If Orchard really thinks it’s inappropriate for rifles to be raffled off in an effort to help local small businesses, perhaps it’s time for her to engage in some activism of her own. She could always protest outside of the small businesses that will benefit from the proceeds of the raffle, encouraging Baldwin County residents to refuse to shop at stores that have taken that evil “gun money.” How well do you think that would go over?
Orchard will do none of those things. Instead, she’ll simply complain about the rifle raffle, even if she comes off as more interested in blocking the legal transfer of firearms than helping the small businesses in her community.
I don’t want to be too flippant here. I realize that Orchard has been touched by the criminal misuse of a firearm herself (her father shot and killed his girlfriend during an argument), and I can understand why she has become a gun control advocate even if I don’t agree with her positions. Objecting to a raffle that could keep some of her favorite businesses afloat in the coming months won’t do anything to stop violent crime or prevent suicides, however. The answer doesn’t lie with banning rifles or raffles, but in more effective strategies to deal with violent criminals and get troubled individuals the help that they need.