Lockport firefighters union raises money with controversial gun

Lockport firefighters union raises money with controversial gun raffle

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A suburban fire department union is raising money--and eyebrows--with a controversial raffle. The prize? Guns, including an assault rifle.

The Lockport Firefighters Local 1544 raffled off 12 guns during the first half of the year and will begin the second round of raffle drawings in January.

The big prize, to be given away in July: a Smith and Wesson AR-15 assault rifle, which sells for over $1,200.

"I'm not surprised but at the same time I would think first responders would probably be the first ones not to want to raffle off guns because they're gonna be showing up at accidents, suicides," says Colleen Daley, Executive Director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.

The raffle tickets sell for $50 each. 500 of them will be sold and every month two winners will be drawn. Prizes include handguns, rifles and shotguns.

The firefighters union doesn't actually have the guns. Winners will be able to pick them up at Rink's Gun and Sport in Lockport as long as they are 21 and older and have a valid Illinois Firearm Owner Identification Card.

The union president could not do an interview because he was on duty, but told FOX 32 the money pays for union administration costs and funds local charities the Lockport Fish Food Pantry.

Virginia Coffeen is the pantry coordinator and she sees nothing wrong with the raffle.

"The firefighters have always contributed to the food pantry at least once a year they go out and make a collection and about two weeks ago they brought in way over a ton of food plus $368 for the pantry," Coffeen explains.

The raffle is not sanctioned by the fire department, and the fire chief declined to comment on its appropriateness.

"There's absolutely nothing wrong with them trying to raise money for their local fire department," Daley says. "We support that, we support them, what they do is amazing, but we also just also kinda wonder why they chose that. There's some else they could raffle off that the community's more excited about, maybe not."

FOX 32's Craig Wall caught up with the Lockport mayor Thursday evening, who was getting ready to go trick-or-treating with his kids. He said he was unaware of the raffle, but if he had known about it he would have bought a ticket. And in fact, the union president said the only feedback they've ever gotten was positive.

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