A plan by the New Hampshire Police Chiefs Association to raffle off guns to benefit a youth training program is drawing criticism, especially in the Upper Valley. The raffle is co-sponsored by a gun shop in Newport, New Hampshire, which is also the home of a gun manufacturer.
The raffle plan, devised last October, is to sell a thousand tickets at $30 a piece. They are almost sold out. Winners will be drawn at Rody’s Gun Shop in New Hampshire each day in May. The free guns will include rifles, pistols, and what has been described as military-style assault weapons. State representative Sharon Nordgren, from Hanover, thinks it’s a bad idea, especially in the wake of the school shootings.
"So I guess I just thought it was an insensitive thing to do, in one instance, and I guess I was just sort of amazed that the police chiefs would be in the business of arming the public. That was my initial reaction," Nordgren said.
Paul Donovan, who chairs the Police Chiefs Association, is not making any public comments, except through a letter posted on the organization’s website. It reads in part, "While this raffle falls on the heels of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police extends their deepest sympathies to the families and first responders. New Hampshire Chiefs of Police feel the issues with these tragic shootings are ones that are contrary to lawful and responsible gun ownership. We believe in and support the Second Amendment, and encourage education in the area of firearms safety."
The raffle benefits a week-long training program for youth called the New Hampshire Police Cadet Training Academy. But Nordgren thinks police officers, as well as civilians, could end up being hurt by the firearms.
"So I just worry that these guns could get into the wrong hands, it’s just more guns out there that might otherwise not be there," Nordgren said.
She notes that the Police Chief of Greenwood New Hampshire was killed last year, and that a Manchester police officer was seriously wounded. The police chiefs in Hanover and Claremont have told the Valley News that they are, quote, "uncomfortable" with the giveaway. But the Police Chiefs Association has rebuffed criticism and says it will go forward. The owner of Rody’s gun shop declined to comment, and calls to Sturm and Ruger, the gun manufacturer in Newport supplying the weapons, were not returned.