In a move that either consists of very little thought and understanding, or an outright thinly veiled insult, a gun store in America is offering an AR-15 assault rifle as a raffle prize to raise money for the victims of the Orlando Pulse Massacre, a similar type of gun that was used to kill 49 members of the LGBT+ community and injure more than 50 others.
Second Amendment Sports in McHenry, Illinois have offered up this prize in the hopes of raising money for the victims of the shooting, as well as for the families of those whose lives were lost. The business will make a base donation of $2,000 and will sell raffle tickets at $5 each before the prize draw on July 31st.
After coming under criticism for offering a weapon of war and murder as a prize to raise support and awareness for the victims of the worst mass shooting in America for more than 100 years, and the biggest loss of LGBT+ lives since the Holocaust, the owners have tried to shift the issue away from being about firearms and gun violence to being once about terrorism.
‘I understand that there are different opinions out there. We don’t look at this as a gun issue. We look at this as a terrorism issue.’ Store marketing director Vic Santi said following an outcry over the raffle.
One of those who has spoken out against the prize being offered is a woman from McHenry County who lost her son in a similar mass shooting in a cinema in Colorado in 2012.
Store owner Bert Islinger has defended the decision to offer a weapon as a prize stating, ‘For our industry, this isn’t weird. It’s a normal product. It’s bought every day by Americans across the United States.’
Perhaps it isn’t weird in your industry Bert, but please try to remember your industry is one that actively profits on people wanting to purchase weapons of mass murder for the express use of performing such acts. It might not be weird for your industry, but for rational, thinking and compassionate people everywhere it is decidedly weird, as well as being tasteless, ill thought out and downright disgusting.
You may think that you are doing a good thing and trying to help victims, but all you’re doing is perpetuating the insane notion that weapons such as this can, and should, be owned by anyone who wants them. A view that helped lead to the Orlando Pulse Massacre, and the many, many other gun related deaths that occur in America every single day.
Since the publication of this article, Second Amendment Sports have announced that they have canceled the raffle, citing legal issues as the reason.
Chicago state law only allows non-profit organizations to run raffles, which Second Amendment Sports are not due to being a for-profit business. The Illinois Raffle Act allows raffle licenses to be issued to organizations that ‘operate without profit to their members’.
Raffle licenses must be issued by local municipality, but as McHenry doesn’t have an ordinance allowing raffles it does not license them. In this case the owners of the gun store have broken the law by operating a raffle without a license.