Proposed bill banning gun raffles worries local fire department

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A New York Senator has introduced a state ban on gun raffles, but that could have a negative impact on local fire departments who rely on fundraisers, like annual gun raffles, to secure money.

The Hamlin Fire Department held their 10th annual gun raffle on Saturday. Out of all their fundraising events, they say the gun raffles bring in the most revenue, while also bringing the community together.

“If that legislation passed about a quarter of our department operating budget would be lost to us,” said John Deserto, Hamlin Fire Department spokesperson.

The Hamlin Fire Department is volunteer-based. They do not receive money from taxes that go to the district. Without fundraisers like this, they say the department would have no way to pay for building space, electricity or department bills.

“The gun raffle like you said is far more efficient. We need fewer people, fewer amount of time and because the tickets are mostly sold pre-sale or before the even we know right now that we’re going to be making money,” said Deserto.

Senator Gaughran, a long island democratic senator who introduced the bill said in a release,

“You shouldn’t be able to simply walk into a catering venue and walk out owning a firearm. this law will protect public safety and advance new york’s commitment to common-sense gun reform,” said Senator Gaughran.

Some at Saturday’s raffle believe the focus should be on education.

“I think that’s half the problem. That you have to respect the weapon and know how to use it and know how to put it away and keep it away from children,” said Jackie Holler, a Hamlin resident, who participated in the gun raffle.

“It’s also a community event, people come together so I fully support the concept of continuing with the firearms. I agree with the background checks for the mental health issue but to band them in terms of fundraisers is just so absurd,” said Tom Hetherington, a retired firefighter/EMT, who participated in the gun raffle.

At Saturday’s raffle, anyone who won a gun had to complete a background check and pick it up at a local dealer. One way fire department officials say they are keeping residents safe.

A link to the bill can be found here. It has no votes so far in this legislative session.

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