Baltimore gun group to raffle semiautomatic

National fund-raiser planned in jab at senator seeking ban on such events

February 11, 2000|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore gun owners group plans to raffle an expensive semiautomatic pistol in a mock "salute" to a Baltimore state senator who is trying to ban the use of handguns as prizes in such drawings.

The Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore said yesterday that it would sell tickets nationwide for the raffle of a .45-caliber Baer Premier II handgun, which it dubbed the "SB341 Hoffman Special," to protest Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman's Senate Bill 341.

"We're holding [the raffle] specifically because Barbara Hoffman has taken it upon herself to become the thought police and attempt to ban the raffle of a perfectly legal and constitutional product," said John Josselyn, legislative vice president of the group.

Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, introduced the bill in reaction to the Carroll County Republican Central Committee's decision last fall to raffle a handgun as a fund-raiser.

Josselyn said the proceeds of his group's raffle would be used to fight Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Smart Guns bill, which would require handguns sold in the state to be equipped with enhanced safety devices.

Tickets will sell for $5, or five for $20. Josselyn said the drawing will be advertised nationally.

Josselyn said the Baer is a custom-built pistol much prized by gun fanciers for its accuracy.

"You can hit a tomato at 50 yards," he said.

The gun's suggested retail price is $1,428, but the organization bought it from Hillsdale, Ill.-based Les Baer Custom Guns Inc. at a reduced price, Josselyn said.

Josselyn said the group has not set a date for the drawing but he hoped tickets would sell out by June 6. "D-Day might be appropriate," he said.

Hoffman could not be reached for comment, but a leading gun control advocate said the auction was in "totally poor taste."

Virginia Wolf, executive director of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, noted that the announcement was made on the same day as the funeral of Baltimore County police Sgt. Bruce Prothero, who was shot to death Monday in a jewelry store robbery.

"It's a slap in the face of everyone who has lost someone to gun violence," said Wolf, the widow of a murdered state trooper.

"I think that kind of shows their mentality," she said.

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