Raffles: A N.D. tradition

A North Dakota youth hockey organization is taking unwarranted criticism for an upcoming raffle with prizes that include 200 weapons.

Critics of the West Fargo Hockey Association’s March 15 raffle argue that holding a gun raffle to raise money for a youth group send the wrong message, and that the event’s timing is bad considering the deadly December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The group is hoping the raffle, with 4,000 tickets being sold, will raise $90,000.

Officials with the hockey group said they’ve received calls from numerous national media outlets, including CNN, CBS?radio and Sports Illustrated.

We’re not quite sure what all the fuss is about. Certainly we’re sensitive to the victims of the Connecticut shooting and others like it around the country, including the shooting of a woman and three of her grandchildren in New Town.

But North Dakota has a deep heritage of hunting and responsible gun-ownership. Raffles that include firearms as prizes are common, and we don’t expect that to change soon or ever. Outdoor and sportsmen’s groups of all sorts hold annual raffles, and most include firearms of some kind as prizes. Other organizations, including he Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization headquartered in New Haven, Conn., routinely hold raffles in North Dakota that include firearms as prizes.

We expect the ruckus over the West Fargo event to disappear pretty quickly. It certainly isn’t the only such event that will be held in the state in the upcoming months. This is North Dakota, and not everyone in the national media understands our state and its legacy of law-abiding gun owners, outdoor enthusiasts and gun raffles.