Santa’s sleigh loaded with guns

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It’s a question Santa often ponders on rooftops throughout America: Will an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle fit down this chimney?

The jolly fat man will be asking himself that more than usual this year.

CNN tells us Black Friday was the biggest day on record for FBI background checks, which loosely track nationwide gun sales. On the shopping day after Thanksgiving the FBI reported 203,000 background checks. The previous record of 185,000 was on Black Friday 2016, which barely beat out Black Friday 2015.

There must be something about gobbling turkey that makes people want to go hunting.

The best selling guns at SharpShootersUSA, a Roswell gun store and shooting range, were handguns and shotguns, often used in home defense. Ammo for handguns and AR-15 rifles was flying off shelves faster than Rudolph the Red-Nosed arms dealer.

The AR-15, a semi-automatic version of the U.S. military’s M16, is the most popular rifle in America. The “AR” stands for ArmaLite, the Hollywood, Ca., company that first made them, not “assault rifle.”

A flyer featuring an AR-15 caught my attention recently. According to the flyer, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department is raising funds for the Toys For Tots by raffling a $1,600 VII-5.56 model made by Georgia manufacturer Daniel Defense.

I called the Douglas Sheriff’s Department seeking more information on the raffle, but no one in the office Wednesday knew about it, they said.

And no one called me back. That happens when you tell people you work at a newspaper.

I grew up around guns and have them in my home, but I find it odd that law enforcement is raising money for a children’s charity by selling the type of weapon used in so many mass shootings, including those in Las Vegas, Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Of the 23 guns found in Stephen Paddock’s Las Vegas hotel room, most were semi-automatic rifles akin to the AR-15. Four were made by Daniel Defense.

The raffle strikes me as unusual because law enforcement agencies routinely try to suppress the number of guns in civilian control by conducting “gun buybacks.” Experts say such programs are more effective at generating publicity than lowering crime rates.

The Atlanta Police Department and Fulton County Sheriff’s Office held a gun buyback event in June. The group Stop Atlanta Violence Effectively raised $30,000 to buy back guns at $50 (handguns) and $100 (rifles, shotguns) each.

Information on the raffle flyer indicates the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department has a raffle license. Since the local sheriff is the person responsible for issuing raffle licenses, obtaining one in this situation probably wasn’t much of a hassle.

In Georgia you have to have a license to hold a raffle or bingo game, but not to buy a gun. Bingo licenses, for those interested, are handled by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which maintains a database of 10,441 approved bingo operators.

Who will win the AR-15?

Will the sheriff conduct a background check on the raffle winner?

Does the sheriff have a Federal Firearms License?

Will Santa’s weaponized sleigh get nuked over North Korea?

Should police raffle guns at Christmas to buy toys for children?

It’s the season of giving, but I’m going to say “Ho-Ho-No” to the last one.


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