Some say we’ve become a society too concerned with political correctness and cultural sensitivity. Conversely, others demand heightened awareness of ethnic, racial, and religious differences. Those who are zealots, passionate about one cause or another, rarely give a hoot about stepping on the toes of the opposition one way or the other.
Then there’s the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police who are sponsoring – in collaboration with New Hampshire gun makers Sig Sauer and Sturm, Ruger & Company – a month-long auction in support of their cadet training program. Now, that’s nice, that effort; gun manufacturers and cops working together to help raise money for youngsters looking to potentially join the police force. What are they auctioning off? Trips to Hawaii? A weekend at a local spa? Season tickets to the closest major league club? No, no and no. This group decided that the very best way to raise funds and show support for their up-and-coming police officers who will, at some point in their careers, likely be in the line of fire in service to their duties, is to hold an auction. Specifically an auction to sell a Ruger SR-556C assault rifle and 30 other guns – one for each day of the month – to the lucky New Hampshire citizens who have the cash to be the highest bidders.
Isn’t that a good idea!? Throw a really fun auction where 31 assault weapons and other guns are sold off to help out those who will serve and protect. Is it just me or is this a little like meeting a robber out in the driveway to give them the baseball bat to bash in your door and quite possibly your head?
But, no, some say. These guns will be going to law-abiding citizens who just happen to really, really like guns and want to do their part to boost our crime fighting organizations. You know, law-abiding citizens like Nancy Lanza and all those other people whose guns were “borrowed” by family members, stolen by criminals, or used by random others to commit heinous crimes of rage, passion, or sheer insanity. Lucky for New Hampshire, 31 of those law-abiding citizens will be the recipients of 31 new guns…31 new guns to add to the millions we American already have stockpiled. Have I already said what a good idea this is?
According to The New York Times, this upcoming event was discovered by Hanover, NH Chief Nicholas J. Giaccone, Jr., as he was perusing the internet:
When Chief Nicholas J. Giaccone Jr. of Hanover pulled up information about the raffle on the Internet, he said, he was flabbergasted.
“I looked at the first weapon and Googled that one,” said Chief Giaccone, who recalled using an expletive when he pulled up information about the Ruger SR-556C, a semiautomatic weapon. “It’s an assault rifle.”
The Chief wasn’t the only one who was flabbergasted; in fact, quite a few people were incensed. A local Salem, New Hampshire citizen, Richard J. O’Shaughnessy, wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Eagle Tribune and pretty much said it all:
You might think that the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police would show better judgment. You might think that they would have more respect for Chief Michael Mahoney of Greenland, who died in hail of bullets last April. You would think that they would have more respect for the police officers who were shot with one killed in Manchester. You would think that they might have remembered that 26 children and teachers were riddled with bullets in Connecticut last month.
Apparently not, because in a fundraising promotion for their association they are having a raffle with guns including semiautomatic weapons as the prizes. People who should know better are adding to the glorification of the gun culture in this state. New Hampshire is becoming another Somalia.
Beyond the dunderheadedness of auctioning off weapons for a police organization, it’s impossible to miss the locational and timing insensitivity of this event. Not only is New Hampshire one of the few and very small New England states, as is Connecticut where the Sandy Hook School shooting occurred just weeks ago, but the auction inventory includes the AR-15 style rifle the shooter used in Newtown to slaughter 26 people (and which the Aurora “Batman” theater shooter also used). The Sig Sauer P226 handgun in the auction? That model gun was also carried by the Newtown shooter.
The organizers of the event may be stunned by all the backlash, but they insist they’re standing firm. Chief Paul T. Donovan, the president of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police made a statement in which he defended the raffle and asserted that all winners would have to meet all gun regulations.
“While this raffle falls on the heels of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police extends their deepest sympathies to the families and first responders,” Chief Donovan wrote. “New Hampshire Chiefs of Police feel the issues with these tragic shootings are ones that are contrary to lawful and responsible gun ownership.” […]
The guns will be distributed through another raffle partner, Rody’s Gun Shop, a windowless outpost here in Newport, a town that comes to life when employees of Ruger, which is one of its main employers, leave work for the day.
“Around here, most people are into guns,” said Michael Gaffney, an employee of a nearby hardware store who won a rifle in a raffle years ago. “You get a chance to win a free gun! It’s like any raffle, very much akin to trailer raffles, snowmobile raffles or turkey raffles.”
Aw, that does sound all rah-rah and good old American apple pie-ish n’ all, but the problem, Michael, is that trailers, snowmobiles, and turkeys don’t typically wreak havoc if they happen to fall into the wrong hands. Semi-automatic weapons can…and have. Fairly recently.
Of course, this is a more rural area where the culture of good old boys and guns is as everyday as picking up the mail and mowing your lawn. “This is a sport,” as one of the local gals said. The reality of how shocking this idea seems to those not part of this culture apparently eludes this crowd: one thousand tickets have already sold like wildfire and the event isn’t until May…golly gee, Mother, free guns – grab the checkbook and let’s get down to Rody’s!
Then there’s the usual political divide. How do you think the state representatives responded to this event?
Democrat Stephen Shurtleff said:
“I think in some respects it shows the wrong message. For law enforcement, normally they’re dealing with firearms in a negative way. For that reason, it’s just not an appropriate thing. We’re trying to get guns off the street.” [Source: Salon]
And Republican Al Baldasaro?
“The only ones who are saying it’s insensitive are these liberals out there who want to take away your guns. The shooting in Newtown had nothing to do with law-abiding citizens.” [Source: The Boston Globe]
We’re not surprised, are we?
At a time when the political climate is rife with heated debate, and the need to construct some kind of cogent, enforceable gun policy is urgent, it is oddly oxymoronic for a police organization, of all things, to raise money by giving away military style weaponry every day for the entire merry month of May. Stupid? Yes. Potentially self-destructive? Could be. Incredibly ill-timed and insensitive? Completely.
My suggestion? How ’bout you get all those snowmobiles that have been raffled off in the past and host a snowmobile race? Or, hey, how about a big turkey fry? Wait, I got it…a bake sale! Yeah…maybe call that Pie Lady who brought apple pies to Newtown to help the folks there after 20 of their little kids were blown away by the exact same kind of rifles you’re going to auction off to the highest bidder.