Pearls Clutched Over SC Fire Department's Rifle Raffle

In a perfect example of the media bias that’s all too common when it comes to reporting on Second Amendment issues, local television stations and newspapers around York, South Carolina are breathlessly reporting on a rifle raffle put on by a local volunteer fire company. In doing so, it sure seems like the media outlets are trying to create a controversy where none exists.

Take the reporting by The Herald newspaper, for instance.

The Bethany Santiago Volunteer Fire Department in York is holding a fundraising raffle. The prize is an AR-15. The winner also will receive 500 rounds of ammunition.

The raffle will continue until all 200 tickets are sold, a spokesperson from the Fire Department said. He declined to comment on why this prize was chosen.

No one has voiced concern about a rifle as a prize.

The York County Sheriff and S.C. attorney general’s office referred The Herald to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division about the rifle raffle. A spokesperson for SLED said they rely on state laws.

State law shows anyone over age 21 can own a gun in South Carolina, except if they have been convicted of a felony or a violent crime. You need a permit only if you carry a handgun or to carry a concealed weapon.

So, no one’s complained or voiced concern and the rifle raffle is perfectly legal under state law. Honestly, what’s the story here, other than a volunteer fire department trying to raise some money? Maybe it was just a slow news day for The Herald, but the paper seems to be fixated on the choice of firearm that’s being raffled off.

The Outdoor Shop in York is providing the rifle to be auctioned. Chris Hybarger, owner of The Outdoor Shop, is a volunteer fire-fighter at a nearby fire department.

He wanted to get involved because he wanted to support the neighboring fire department, he said.

“It’s how they survive, off fundraising from the public,” he said.

The Outdoor Shop will be responsible for making sure the winner is legally allowed to carry a gun, a spokesperson for the Fire Department said.

The rifle being auctioned is a Palmetto State Armory M4 Carbide 5.56 AR-15 Rifle. It holds 5.56 mm rounds – “a small intermediate cartridge, half-way between a handgun or a hunting rifle,” said Steven Howards, an attorney with American Firearms & Munitions Consulting. These rounds are advantageous for hunting, he said.

“When you encounter feral pigs, AK47s and AR-15s are really the weapon of choice. A lot of people use it for home defense, and for good reason,” he said. “In many ways, they’re safer than a handgun.”

As it turns out, rifle raffles are a fairly common way for fire departments to raise money for their operations. Besides the raffle taking place in York, South Carolina, there’s also a raffle underway in Indiana Township, Iowa (where 16 guns are being raffled off) and in Davie County, North Carolina, where the Sheffield-Calahaln volunteer fire department is raffling off four guns, including another Palmetto State Armory AR-15.

Why are these raffles taking place? Because they’re popular. They make money for the organizations, which is the whole point of a fundraiser. In a time where firearms can be hard to find at local gun stores, the thought of spending $10 on a raffle ticket and walking away with an AR-15 sounds like a pretty good deal to a lot of folks, even if it sounds awfully troubling to local reporters.

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