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January 16, 2013

Police chiefs group defends firearms raffle

The New Hampshire police chiefs association is taking heat, but stands behind its decision to raffle firearms to the public, including semiautomatic weapons.

The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police has been criticized for holding the fundraiser in the wake of the fatal shootings of 26 people, including 20 young children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Association president Paul Donovan, chief of the Salem Police Department, issued a statement this week, acknowledging the criticism and defending the group’s decision. He said the organization is sorry for what happened in Newtown and that it supports the constitutional right to bear arms.

“While this raffle falls on the heels of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police extends their deepest sympathies to the families and first responders,” Donovan said. “New Hampshire Chiefs of Police feel the issues with these tragic shootings are ones that are contrary to lawful and responsible gun ownership. We believe in and support the Second Amendment, and encourage education in the area of firearms safety.”

Donovan was not available for comment yesterday. Derry police Chief Edward Garone, the organization’s secretary, declined to comment, referring all questions to Donovan.

The raffle, called A Month of New Hampshire-made Firearms, is being held to raise money for the New Hampshire Police Cadet Training Academy. The academy is a one-week program that teaches 14- to 20-year-olds about law enforcement.

A different firearm — supplied by Ruger, Sig Sauer and Rody’s Gun Shop of Newport — is to be raffled each day in May. All 1,000 of the $30 raffle tickets were sold as of Saturday, according to the organization.

Donovan said in his statement, dated Monday and posted on the organization’s website, that raffle winners must meet all firearm laws.

The association worked closely with the New Hampshire attorney general’s office to make sure the fundraiser followed all regulations, he said. The fundraiser, launched in October, is receiving harsh reviews across the state.

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