By Matthew Barakat
May 17, 2007
gun-rights group planning a "Bloomberg Gun Giveaway" in response to
lawsuits against two Virginia gun shops by the New York City mayor must
modify the contest to comply with state law, Fairfax County officials
In response, the Virginia Citizens Defense League
(VCDL) is now doubling the number of guns it plans to give away and
opening its contest to anybody who shows up at tonight's meeting.
VCDL organized the gun raffle to raise money for the gun shops being
sued as well as to poke a thumb in the eye of New York Mayor Michael R.
Bloomberg, who the league thinks has unfairly targeted legitimate gun
dealers. Mr. Bloomberg has called the giveaway's organizers "sick
Customers received raffle tickets for every $100 they
spent at the two stores, Bob Moates Sport Shop in Richmond and Old
Dominion Gun and Tackle in Danville. The drawing will be held in a
Fairfax County government building in Annandale.
Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. told the league that such a
raffle would be illegal under the state's gambling laws. To comply with
the law, the contest must be open to anybody who attends tonight's
event, even if they never spent a dime at the two gun shops. The
prizes themselves -- a Para-Ordnance handgun and a Browning Varmint
Stalker rifle, each worth about $900 -- are legitimate under state law,
Mr. Horan said.
VCDL President Philip Van Cleave said the original
drawing will now be postponed so it can be revised to comply with state
law. A new giveaway will be held tonight with the same guns as prizes.
Anybody who shows up at the meeting will get a ticket for the drawing.
Van Cleave said he is satisfied with how everything turned out, though
he thinks county officials opposed to guns unfairly targeted the group.
"If the drawing were for anything other than a firearm, this would have been a nonissue," he said.
Supervisor Penelope Gross, who has expressed concerns about the
giveaway, said the revised plan is even worse because the giveaway is
now open to anybody who walks off the street. Mrs. Gross, whose
district includes Annandale, worried that the meeting could spin out of
"People have told me that folks will be coming from all
over the state," she said. "The government center is not FedEx Field.
... I think they have created another problem because they have to be
able to control their meeting."
New York City officials have sued
more than two dozen gun dealers from Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South
Carolina and Virginia in federal court. The lawsuits were filed after
private investigators went into the stores with hidden cameras and
simulated an illegal straw purchase -- in which one person fills out
the paperwork and buys the gun for somebody else.
In the stings, a
man and woman entered the gun shop, and the man asked all the questions
about the gun while the woman wandered off. When it time came to
finalize the purchase, the woman filled out all the paperwork.
Department officials have said that the private investigators
conducting the stings may have been breaking the law themselves and
that none of the gun dealers caught in the stings would face federal
Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell and Mr.
Bloomberg have also exchanged barbs over the stings, with Mr. McDonnell
warning the mayor, a fellow Republican, that they are unwelcome and
will be illegal under a new Virginia law.