A raffle to raise funds for a Delaware travel baseball team, in which a semi-automatic shotgun and a .22-caliber pistol are among the top prizes, is receiving some pushback.
The raffle benefits the Delaware Spartans, a Sussex County travel baseball organization raising money for its 13U division team. The raffle will take place Dec. 18 live on Facebook.
While it’s not unusual for organizations to hold gun raffles to raise money, Traci Manza Murphy, executive director of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, argued against the idea of doing so for children’s sports.
“Raffles are a great way for organizations to raise money, but couldn’t the club have considered an iPad or a PS5 instead of a deadly weapon?” she said.
“Raffling off a deadly weapon is trivializing how impactful these weapons are,” Murphy said. The situation is “distressing and upsetting” particularly because it involves an institution that supports youth, she said.
The baseball organization wanted to “capture people’s attention,” according to Frank Payton, a spokesperson for the team. “We decided to have a raffle that draws the attention of people who are interested and that (guns) are just one of the things that interest a lot of people that support our team,” Payton said.
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He stressed that all gun transfers from the raffle will be handled by a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer.
Those participating in the raffle must be at least 21.
The fundraiser has received strong responses on both sides.
Heather Burket from New Castle County said she thought the raffle is “inappropriate” for a youth fundraiser.
“With all the school shootings that have occurred, it just seems like an ignorant slap in the face to those who have been shot and lost loved ones,” Burket wrote in response to a Facebook post about the raffle.
A few people said that the raffle is a smart way to raise money in Sussex County, which has a large number of gun owners who hunt.
“For my kids, and even during my childhood, they (guns) are seen more as a tool for hunting, target practice and not something that is used in crimes down here compared to how they are viewed in other cities,” said Ron Hagen, co-owner of Best Shot firearms sales and training in Rehoboth Beach.
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Hagan, a former Delaware state trooper, said that while he was surprised that “Facebook is letting them do that,” he does not object to raffling guns for fundraising.
“We must understand that the gun is not going to a kid, it is going to a parent who purchased a gun, and any gun transfer requires a double background check,” he said.
Murphy, with the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, argued that Delaware does not have a comprehensive criminal background check system in place, something she called a “system loophole.”
“We do not have a comprehensive criminal background check, so for example, even if a local law enforcement officer has been called to your house 20 times in a year because of domestic disturbances but there has never been any record of charges filed, you can walk into a gun store today and buy a gun,” Murphy said.
In the event of a firearm transfer, a licensed dealer in Delaware runs that directly through the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System, rather than a local or state criminal history database.
Delaware does not require a permit to purchase a gun, contrary to neighboring states like New Jersey and Maryland.
“I am sure that the organization will do whatever it can to make sure it is following the law, but our laws and our policies are lenient,” Murphy said.
DATABASE:Tracking gun violence in Delaware
There have been 207 shooting incidents in Delaware this year, with the majority occurring in New Castle County. In total, 70 people have been killed and 195 wounded, according to the Delaware Online/News Journal database.
Contact Yusra Asif at [email protected].