New Hampshire residents, he argued, realize that guns in the hands of responsible owners can deter crime. “New Hampshire is one of the safest states in the country. Why? You think twice before you do a crime here because people can carry” a weapon openly, Baldasaro said.
Critics of the raffle, however, questioned why New Hampshire police would want to channel high-capacity weapons to the public. The Ruger SR-556 to be awarded May 1 not only is similar to the Newtown weapon, but also resembles the semiautomatic weapons used in the movie-theater shootings in Aurora, Colo., in July, and the Dec. 24 ambush shooting in Webster, N.Y., that killed two firefighters.
“These are certainly not the kinds of guns that the New Hampshire police want to find when they go into a domestic violence situation,” said Cathie Whittenburg, spokeswoman for the New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. “They’re designed so you can kill as many as people as possible in as short amount of time as possible. As horrific as the shooting in Newtown was, the gun did what it was designed to do.”
To Baldasaro, however, the gun’s firepower is not a good reason to cancel the raffle or change its prizes. “It’s very simple,” he said. “Some law-abiding citizen is probably going to win that gun.”
Brian MacQuarrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.