Raffling off a gun is a time-honored way to raise a little money. Someone donates a firearm and everyone interested buys a ticket or twelve in hopes of getting it dirty cheap. Maybe they also want to help the cause, but sometimes it’s all about the gun. What can I say? We’re human.

Gun raffles have been around for decades, and to my knowledge, no gun obtained in such a way has been used in a crime by the person who won the raffle. I’m sure there probably is an exception out there, just because the laws of probability say there have to be, but I’ve never heard of it.

Still, it seems anti-gunners still think gun raffles represent a risk to the public. At least one newspaper in New York, however, disagrees.

On the heels of a package of gun-control bills already being passed by the state Legislature this year, a new proposal being floated in Albany would make it illegal to offer a firearm as a prize in a raffle. It’s a bad idea that could actually hamper public safety rather than enhance it.

But in many places, including Cayuga County, such raffles are used by volunteer fire departments to raise money for equipment needed to protect communities during emergencies. And the firearms end up being used for lawful things like hunting and target shooting.

And in cases where a rifle or a pistol are awarded as prizes in New York, there is never a scenario in which a raffle winner is handed a firearm on the spot. Gun ownership in New York still means being at least 18 years old, having no criminal record, and passing a federal background check.

It seems that most raffles work the same way.

You see, the gun is “donated” by a store or manufacturer, but they don’t give it to the charity in question. Since the group is planning on giving the gun away, that would risk it being called a straw purchase and run afoul of federal firearm laws.

What happens is the store promises the donation and presents the gun for display, but they’re still technically the owner.

The winner then has to fill out a form 4473 and pass a background check to obtain the weapon. It’s no different than if they’d handed over cold, hard cash for the said gun rather than buying some raffle tickets.

The truth is that if you’re claiming raffles represent a public health risk, you’re either lying or ignorant. At some point, you have to look at that ignorance, if that’s what it is, as willful ignorance. You don’t know, and you don’t want to know.

I’m not sure that’s any better than lying.

Either way, gun raffles have not now and have never been a public health problem, nor will they ever be.

Then again, we’re also talking about people who tend to believe that any gun anywhere represents a public health risk, so we probably should pray for sanity for these folks.

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