Ryan Michel, Contributing Writer
On April 7 the community of Newtown, CT was up in arms when a gun activist group, formed by Ron Paul, announced that they were trying to raffle off an assault-style rifle as a means of empowering people and informing them of their gun rights. In an article written by Robert Goulston and Rob Polansky of WFSB Channel 3 news in Hartford, CT, the Campaign for Liberty gun rights activist group sent out an email advertising the lottery for the AR-15, the same gun used by Adam Lanza at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Their campaign stated, “Each and every one of us has a God-given right and duty to defend freedom.” This was a very ambitious effort by the Campaign for Liberty to educate the public and push gun safety and regulations. But while it is important that people are aware that they have the right to protect themselves, this was not the best course of action for them to take.
The horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School may seem like one of the many horrible school shootings that have occurred in recent history, so the idea of raffling off the exact same gun used in the shootings less than two years ago is shocking. Those who were not directly affected by the shootings may be empathetic towards the whole situation, but many people have moved on from these attacks and recognize this as just another terrible event in the history of our country. The parents, relatives and those close to the innocent children and teachers that were killed, however, will deal with the pain and suffering for the rest of their lives. The Campaign for Liberty falls in the group of people who have moved on from these events and are trying to usher the ideas of normalcy back into the very same community where the people who were directly affected by these events must try to move on, and cope everyday, with the events that so closely affected them. Regardless of the side of the argument for gun rights one place themselves with, it is important to consider the emotions of the families involved before trying to push pro-firearm agendas. This was a horrible event that we all felt affected by, and moving on is more difficult for some than for others. While “each and every one of us has the God-given right and duty to defend freedom,” what freedom was Adam Lanza trying to defend? While he opened fire in an elementary school in December 2012, can anyone argue that he was, in fact, defending himself against innocent teachers and children? It is important to recognize the importance that guns have in our society, from hunting to protection, but when people try to lighten the mood by conducting something so ordinary as a raffle, the debate over gun rights becomes increasingly heated, and those with differing views will become increasingly distanced from each other.
“what freedom was Adam Lanza trying to defend? While he opened fire in an elementary school in December 2012, can anyone argue that he was, in fact, defending himself against innocent teachers and children?”
Shootings like these always happen in Gun-Free zones. School shooters are cowards and would not go on a shooting spree where someone could defend themselves. We denied the rights of those present at Sandy Hook to defend themselves, and look at the outcome.
Why is it so shocking that they used the same model rifle? Would it be less shocking if they raffled off an ACR, AK-47, or any other weapon NOT used at Newtown? The AR-15 is an extremely popular rifle, often used for hunting. You can purchase it as a semi-automatic at your local Dick’s Sporting Goods. Raffles for a gun like this would be quite common.
The shooting was used by lobbyists to propel ridiculous anti-gun legislation, including the NY SAFE Act, which required the names of those who held a legal pistol permit to be publicly released (an unconstitutional breach of privacy). Gun enthusiasts were worried that the post-Newtown frenzy would result in the weapon’s market being banned. Demand spiked and prices doubled.
Think of this example: If one illegally-residing Latino kills a young boy, should the family’s feelings be considered in the debate on deportation? Obviously not! That would be ridiculous! In the same way, demanding that Campaign for Liberty considers the feelings of the families is ridiculous, unless they specifically reference the Newtown incident.
The AR raffle has as much to do with Newtown as a Ford Bronco raffle has to do with OJ Simpson.