By Sarah Lehr
An upcoming fundraiser by the Campbell Police Department has raised some eyebrows.
The department is hosting a gun raffle Dec. 4 to raise money for a new police dog. It also selling clothing with Campbell Police Department insignias.
Officer Eric Manning and the department’s existing dog “Storm” suffered injuries after a vehicle rammed into their cruiser in July.
Manning has largely recovered after extensive physical therapy, but Storm, an 81/2-year-old Belgian Malinois, has been out of commission due to spinal injuries.
The department hopes to raise $15,000 for a new police dog, along with additional funds for a new cruiser. To learn more, visit the “Campbell K-9 Fundraiser” Facebook page. For tickets, contact 330-755-1411, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A flier for the raffle, which costs $20 to enter, advertises a first-, second- and third-place winner. The first-place “sport shooter” prize includes a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 sports rifle, the second-prize “concealed carry” prize includes a Glock 43 handgun and the third-prize “home defense” prize includes a Remington 870 shotgun.
“There are people who disagree with a police department raffling off guns, even though we are not giving guns to the public,” Manning said. “It is a gift card. You would have to go through the same steps that you would go through to go the store to purchase a firearm.”
The three winners will receive gift cards for Fin Feather Fur Outfitters to match the value of each advertised prize plus local sales tax, meaning that winners have the option to purchase items at the store not related to guns or gun accessories.
Raffle winners will be subject to all state and federal regulations for purchasing guns at a retailer, Manning said. If a winner does not pass a background check, he or she could use the gift card to buy something other than a firearm, he added.
“People that have been convicted of an offense that would limit their ability to own firearms may still want to support our program and still can use that money for hunting, fishing, camping – all the other things that they offer,” Manning said.
Several pro-gun organizations, including the Buckeye Firearms Association and Bearing Arms, have published articles about the raffle. The event also has attracted criticism from gun-control groups.
“Really, the main negatives that we’ve gotten about this have been mostly out of state. There [has been a] specific anti-gun activist group that posted for all its members to boycott, harass and generally make our lives miserable or attempt to,” Manning said, referring to the gun-violence prevention group One Pulse for America. Actor and gay-rights activist George Takei founded the organization in the wake of the June 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
Multiple people, some of whom are affiliated with One Pulse for America, have posted reviews on the Campbell Police Department Facebook page to express opposition to the raffle. Several reviewers wrote they supported raising money for a police dog, but said raffling guns is an insult to victims of gun violence. Other commentators have posted reviews in favor of the raffle.
The One Pulse for America Facebook group comprises close to 75,000 members. Ladd Everitt, One Pulse for America director, said the organization mobilizes its members online to take “daily action” for gun control.
“We’re very disturbed by it,” Everitt said of the raffle. “There are many, many people with violent histories in our country who can pass a background check under our weak gun laws... My sense from the rhetoric directed at us, is that this is very much a pet project of officer Manning.”
Toby Hoover, founder of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, also believes the raffle is inappropriate.
“It send a very poor message, in terms of what we should want to encourage as a culture,” Hoover said.