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Gun raffles in Frederick Co. illustrate cultural divide | News

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Gun raffles in Frederick Co. illustrate cultural divide

FREDERICK, Md. (WUSA9) -- While some urban organizations and churches have supported programs like gun buybacks that take guns off the street, gun giveaways have become the number one fundraiser for many volunteer firefighting organizations in more rural areas.

The trend starkly illustrates the cultural divide on guns in the D.C. region.

"75 percent of the fire and rescue companies do some sort of gun raffle," Roy Lipscomb, former Brunswick Volunteer Fire Co. chief and gun store owner said.

Lipscomb is the founder of the premier gun giveaway contest in Frederick County, which offers 5000 buyers a chance to win a gun per day each day of the year in exchange for the purchase of a $50 sportsman's calendar. The proceeds benefit volunteer firefighters in Brunswick and Emmitsburg. Winners have the option of taking cash instead.

Tickets for at least four other current gun raffles are for sale in Lipscomb's R and R Guns and Ammo store in Brunswick, he says the raffles always sell out.

The numbers of people participating are estimated in the tens of thousands, with hundreds of guns given away every year in the county.

No giveaway guns have been traced to crime. Winners may not receive their prize unless they pass the same federal background check given to legal gun buyers.

Even so, some members of the community are pushing back. "You shouldn't be raffling them off, you should be taking them away," one critic told WUSA9. "It's irresponsible."

But the popularity of gun raffles has increased as traditional fundraising events like Bingo and pancake breakfasts have waned.

"We're able to raise a lot of money with a lot less effort," said Paul Hackey, President of the New Market Volunteers, which is currently offering a 30 guns in 30 days raffle for November. Hackey said the last raffle raised about $15,000.

Hackey noted it is much harder to turn out volunteers to put on more traditional events as the community grows and volunteers become increasingly busy handling calls for service.

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