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Gun raffles popular yet controversial fundraisers on the First Coast

5:20 PM, Apr 3, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Like many other organizations, The Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters has several fundraisers throughout the year, but a current fundraiser is raffling off an item that top lawmakers and President Obama are working to ban. 

If you go on to the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters website, on the left hand side you'll see "AR-15, your gun your way." There's a link to a raffle with the weapon as the prize.

"We know it's a hot button topic right now with some of the conversations going on in Washington, some of our guys are hunters and gun enthusiasts so they just said 'we'd like to see you do an AR-15,'" said Randy Wyse, President of the Jacksonville Firefighters Association.

Wyse said the decision to raffle the tactical weapon came from requests from firefighters.

"We've taken some pay cuts, we've been going through a lot of stuff within the city and the firefighters have been willing to sacrifice some of the wages to help the city and we just think this is a way instead of spending $1,200 dollars for a gun, they buy a ticket for $10 and it gives them a chance to win one," said Wyse.

The winner of the gun also receives a $1,200 dollar credit to customize it. Glen Mitchell is with Compassionate Families, a group that helps families whose loved ones were homicide victims and said he has a problem with the raffle. Mitchell lost his son to gun violence 19 years ago.

"An association of firefighters that is focused and absolutely focused to saving lives would raffle an automatic assault weapon to be decked out completely as the winner of the raffle wishes, it's an enigma for me. It's a tough connection for me to make," said Mitchell. (Editorial note: The AR-15 in this raffle is a semi-automatic a weapon.) 

The winner of the gun still has to go through the legal process of obtaining it, such as background checks.

Green Acres Sporting Goods sells about six of these guns a day. The shop is actually hosting its own gun raffle.

While making contacts for this story, First Coast news also learned that The Justice Coalition, an organization that advocates for victims of violence will also receive money from a fundraiser that's being held at a shooting range. As part of that fundraiser, a Glock will be raffled off to a registered shooter and a second drawing will give away an unidentified type of gun.

First Coast News' Michelle Quesada reached out to the Justice Coalition to learn more about the choice of items for the raffle, but never got a response. 

President Barack Obama is meeting with lawmakers to discuss new gun control laws, and it's unknown what affect those talks might have on raffles like these in the future.

Editorial note: The video associated with this story has been removed because the video contains misinformation calling the gun an automatic weapon. The AR-15 in this raffle is a semi-automatic a weapon. 

Below are links to the raffles:

JFRD - Custom AR-15 Giveaway

The Justice Coalition - Shoot for Justice  

First Coast News

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