I saw a segment on the local news recently that some legislator in Sacramento wants to introduce a bill that restricts non-profit organizations from offering guns as raffle prizes.
For years now I have extolled the virtues of conservation organizations that help preserve and improve wild lands. Some of the more noteworthy examples are Ducks Unlimited, The California Waterfowl Association, and The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
These groups and dozens like them raise money to buy land that benefit not just big game animals but trout salmon, bass, eagles, wolves, raccoons and countless other wild creatures. Let me give you a specific example that I think is typical of these conservation groups. About 20 years ago a friend gave me a ticket to a banquet put on by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Feeling guilty I bought $20 worth of raffle tickets and I’ll be darned if I didn’t win a Browning 30 – 06 rifle! I was so delighted, that I came back to the Elk Foundation banquets year after year. I had a great time and over the years brought my kids and eventually my sons-in-law and grandkids as well. Eventually I began to volunteer to serve on the local Central Valley Committee.
Each year the local Elk Foundation raises tens of thousands of dollars for acquiring and improving habitat for wild critters that all of can enjoy The RMEF has preserved and protected over six million acres of critical habitat. Two years ago our combined total raised at our dinners in Ripon passed $1,000,000. That’s ONE MILLION DOLLARS for habitat in California, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Arizona and dozens of other states. Ducks Unlimited, The Mule Deer Foundation, Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and other groups raise similar amounts of money and spend it on improving our environment.
At our local elk dinner we gave away dozens of guns as raffle prizes. We even had a special gun for the military veterans in the crowd. Every veteran in the audience was asked to stand and be recognized after a big round of applause for their service we gave each veteran a complimentary raffle ticket and later in the evening one lucky vet had won a new rifle. Pretty much all of the work of the work of these groups is done by volunteers. RMEF for example has thousands in California alone and less than a half dozen employees. The gun raffles that these groups sponsor provide a huge portion of the revenues that support the conservation work they do. The tax funded groups like the State Fish & Game departments and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Agency simply don’t have enough money or personnel to do the job.
Now some doofus in the legislature wants to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Is it any wonder that the rest of the country refers to us as The People’s Republic of California?