Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ar-15 Raffle Raising More Than Funds

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ar-15 Raffle Raising More Than Funds

Article excerpt

IN HIS RACE for the Senate, C. Ronald Franks of Maryland's Eastern Shore has come up with a novel fund-raiser:

An assault rifle raffle.

A $5 raffle ticket buys a chance for a Colt AR-15. That's the civilian version of the M-16 carried by infantrymen. In the crime bill before Congress, the Colt AR-15 is one of the weapons that would be banned.

Franks is a state legislator from Grasonville, Md., a dentist and a sometime hunter. He is also a candidate for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., in September.

Within Franks' campaign, Larry Parker has become a designated answerer for questions about the raffle. Parker is a retired federal executive. He describes Franks as a "moderate conservative" who is opposed to what he sees as big government infringement on individual liberties - in this case, the Second Amendment right-to-bear-arms provision.

The raffle is booming, says Parker. Ticket sales have gone high-tech. "That raffle was put out on Internet bulletin boards," he said. "We have had orders and supporting phone calls from over 10 states." So much response on the "preppy" information superhighway, says Parker, is proof that protected gun ownership is not just an issue for beer-drinking Bubbas in pickups accessorized with gunracks. "I am not," as Parker put it, "Joe Sixpack."

Parker and Franks are at pains to distance the rifle in the raffle from the phrase "assault rifle." It conjures up the vision of wild-eyed fanatics maniacally spraying a deadly rain of bullets at people.

"We're not dealing with an assault weapon," insisted Parker. "The gun which we're raffling off has a five-shot magazine." Not many people, he says, are likely to go the trouble and the risk of converting it to a full automatic, which is a federal offense.

True, Parker says, it looks scary. Or, as Franks has put it, the Colt AR-15 suffers from a "prejudice of appearance, not unlike prejudice against skin color or nationality." And a 12-guage shotgun - the more typical hunter's weapon - is "one of the most vicious firearms that's ever been manufactured," said Parker. He argues that the AR-15 should not be singled out as dangerous. …

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