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Gun raffles stoke debate after Conn. shooting

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"In 33 states, including Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, the winner of this AR-15 can turn around the same day and sell it to anyone without an ID or background check," Rosenthal said. "They should cancel their raffle and give away a nice mountain bike or snowmobile."

Jonathan Lowy, director of the legal action program at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said he knows of no state in which the raffle would be illegal. But "having these gun giveaways and gun raffles can trivialize the seriousness of firearms," Lowy said.

In a letter posted on the chiefs association website, Salem Police Chief Paul Donovan extended his sympathies to the families of those killed in Newtown but stressed it and other tragic shootings "are contrary to lawful and responsible gun ownership."

Donovan, who did not respond to interview requests, wrote that the raffle's rules require winners meet all applicable state and federal laws, including background checks. The goal of the raffle — to raise $30,000 to offset the cost of the weeklong police cadet training academy — has already been met. The 1,000 raffle tickets, at $30 apiece, sold out last month.

Three of the guns being raffled off are named on a list of weapons that would be prohibited under a proposed ban introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in the wake of the Sandy Hook rampage. That proposal would also ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

While the Newtown shooting has intensified the criticism of the chiefs' raffle, other giveaways have had similarly inauspicious timing.

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