Guns raffled off as prizes in Melrose Park, Merrionette Park

Leah Hope Image
Monday, September 18, 2017
Rifle raffle
Rifle raffle

Should organizations that represent police officers be allowed to raffle off assault weapons as prizes?

Several recent raffles, including ones in Melrose Park and Merrionette Park, have featured weapons.

The raffles are legal but some question the symbolism amid Chicago's violence epidemic.

The Village of Melrose Park celebrates its culinary diversity each year with the Taste of Melrose Park. This year's festival over Labor Day weekend included a new raffle.

The spokesman for Melrose Park says a raffle for the local Fraternal Order of Police offered a semi-automatic weapon as a prize. It was a legal activity but the Mayor of Melrose Park opposes assault weapons.

"The mayor was not aware of what was being raffled off. He is on record saying he is opposed to these kinds of weapons, and doesn't support them, and he has said now, this will never happen again in Melrose Park," said Melrose Park Spokesman Gary Mack.

Last weekend, the Scandinavian American Police and Fire Association raffled off a semi-automatic weapon in Merrionette Park.

Another legal fundraiser and the recipient was the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.

"The fact that were seeing it more and more in this area is disturbing to me. We have seen it downstate. You see elected officials raffle off guns downstate which is different culture, where they're not seeing as much gun violence," said Colleen Daley from the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.

Over the weekend, Chicago Police seized an assault weapon from a convicted felon prohibited from having firearms.

"I have seen people killed on church steps, intersections, shot walking down the street many my communities have lived with the aftermath of these weapons daily for the past year and a half," said Ald. Ray Lopez (15th Ward).

Ald. Ray Lopez understands the gun raffles outside of Chicago may be legal, but he said he is troubled by the message.

On Friday in his ward four people were shot in a car. The weapon was believed to be an assault style rifle.

"The fact that we're highlighting these weapons as a tool for fund-raising when so many communities like mine are struggling with the aftermath of these weapons seems a little bit tone-deaf," said Ald. Lopez.

The ATF has the following rules about gun raffles:

- The winner has to have a FOID card.

- Must be 21 years old.

- Must be a law abiding citizen.

- Go through a background check.

The president of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation said they were not involved in the Merrionette Park fundraiser.

One of the organizers of that fundraiser said this was the second year they raffled a semi-automatic weapon and that they got the idea from other organizations that had similar successful fundraisers with gun raffles.