Organizers Move Forward with Gun Raffle Fundraiser in Ellsworth 

Organizers of a gun raffle in Ellsworth say they’re mindful of the growing issue of gun control.It’s not stopping them from going forward with a successful fundraiser.Starting in May, 31 guns from Willey’s Sports Center in Ellsworth will be in the hands of raffle winners. The Ellsworth Fire Department is working with Willey’s to raise money for the 50th annual Maine State Federation of Firefighters Convention in the fall.Lieutenant Gary Saunders says, “It’s a huge milestone being the 50th and to have this in the city of Ellsworth, we just want to make sure we put on a good show for everybody. We’re doing a lot of fundraising.Through the raffle, the third of its kind for the fire department, organizers will give away a gun a day.Saunders says considering today’s political climate, he understands why this event might raise some concerns, but he hasn’t heard any so far. “It’s something that we keep in the back of our heads and we don’t want to be offensive to anybody. But on the other hand, it’s a legitimate fundraiser and it’s something we really want to help out with.”The manager of Willey’s says the gun raffle is a popular fundraiser for the fire department as well as the Shriner’s, who host a similar event.Both are well-regulated.Phil Phillips says, “When they pick up the gun, they have to follow all state and federal laws and pass a background check and so forth.”For people who don’t like the idea of a gun raffle, Saunders offers them another way to look at it. “If you’re not a gun owner, if you’re not really into guns, you can trade it for other sporting equipment, fishing equipment and things like that. But the other neat thing is, if you’re totally against guns, you can keep a gun off the streets.”1,000 tickets are available for the raffle and we’re told they sell out every year. Tickets are $20 each.You’ll find them at Willey’s Sports Center In Ellsworth or the Ellsworth Fire station.