A local State Senator is seeking the community’s help to block proposed legislation that would ban gun raffles. Senator Rob Ortt is gathering signatures at gun raffles in the area for his petition.
A proposed bill that would ban gun raffles in New York State was announced in the state assembly in January, and more recently, was introduced in the Senate.
“If there’s a bill in both houses, there’s a likelihood that one of those bills could move if not both of them,” Senator Ortt said.
Once a year the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department organizes a gun raffle. They say this is one of the ways they raise money to carry out their day to day operations and keep the community safe. Although there are other ways they raise money, if there’s a ban on gun raffles they say that will hurt.
“You could never have enough money, let’s put it that way,” said Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department Vice President Chris Podpora. “Whether you fund-drive you go to your village board, it doesn’t matter you always need more money, there’s never enough money out there to support a fire department..”
Gun raffles have been its tradition for the last 7 years, but it might have to end.
State Senator Robert Ortt is trying to stop that from happening. One way he’s doing that is by collecting signatures for his petition which opposed the bill.
“My goal is by around November, December to have these compiled and would deliver them to Albany,” Ortt said.
Ortt says the bill makes it seem as though anyone who attends gun raffles can then get a gun. He says that’s not how it works.
“It shows that people are opposed to this, this is not a good idea. This legislation is founded really on a premise that is untrue,” Ortt said. “The idea that people just come here and walk out with a gun is some kind of safety loop hole, that’s not the case.”
He says if you win a gun at a raffle you must go through a criminal background check, just like you would if you bought the gun at a retail store.
“We have to make sure everybody’s safe that gets a gun, that is a true statement and I think the rules are out there and it’s good, no one’s had an issue,” Podpora said.
Those against gun raffles say fire departments and other organizations should find an alternative, but this fire company says that won’t be easy.
“I think what’s gonna happen is that meat raffles are gonna flood the market, is everybody gonna want to go to a meat raffle every single week?” Podpora said. “I don’t know. We talked about it here. Right now we’re gonna run with our gun raffles for as long as we can.”
The Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department says last year more than 500 people attended their gun raffle and helped raise money.
Ortt says he will continue stopping by other gun raffles in the area to collect signatures. The next raffle he will attend is Saturday morning in the town of Elma.