Game of Chance: A game of chance is any game in which the element of chance predominates over the element of skill in the possibility of winning a prize with pecuniary consideration being involved to participate.
So speaketh the “Rules and Regulations Governing the RI Games of Chance” which is overseen by the Rhode Island state police. How happy law enforcement must be monitoring the R.I. GOP raffle where the top prize is an AR-15 semiautomatic assault-style rifle. There will be 4 shooting stations for this “Family Fun” day where patrons will be able to buy an opportunity to shoot one or more firearms, including a Smith and Wesson M&P 15, which is described as a “civilian version” of the M16 semi-automatic military rifle. Additional prizes include various ammo rounds and gift certificates for shooting supplies.
In defending the “fundraiser,” GOP head Mark Smiley noted that there needs to be some addressing of mental health problems so those not capable of being in society can get some help—yet the very nature of a raffle is it is win through pure chance. Smiley’s actions speak louder than words, as in this case, no screening process is in place for the winner(s). Perhaps there should be some mental health screening for the Republicans who thought this was a good idea.
There are some problems, for sure, with the fundraiser. For starters, the service of outside promoters who are not permanent members of the applying organization can’t be employed in any way with the managing, operating, or supervising or controlling the games of chance. Yet, Mr. Smiley acknowledges that NRA instructors will man the shooting stations where a patron “buys” the chance to shoot a weapon. Query whether they have been GOP members for at least one full year under the regulation requirements of Reg. 1.5. Games allowed under the regulations do not contemplate weapons or ammo as the prizes. This is not your father’s Bingo!
Most egregiously, however, is the announcement of the fundraiser around the same time that a task force is convening to examine how to keep guns out of the hands of those with mental illnesses which precipitate a propensity to violence (not all mental illnesses do). The GOP has shown a way to avoid any background check for felons or for mental health problems by holding a raffle. All the Aaron Alexises of the world have to do is buy a ticket to this “family fundraiser.” Even promoting such a day as a family event is a slap in the face to the Newtown parents who don’t think such easy access to guns is something to celebrate.
There was a time when the state Republicans use to have some sense. It was moderate, attuned to social justice and the promotion of women, myself included, for higher office. Now it has become a reactionary group that shows signs of melding with the national Greatly Ossified Party. Both local and national Republican leaders are clueless. A wet kiss to the NRA isn’t the way to elect officials.
There are nuances for every issue that must be respected and should be implemented in law to protect the public. The GOP seems incapable of such nuanced analysis. Far too many of their members come across as yahoos, incapable of wielding a scalpel instead of a hacksaw.
This latest caper by the state GOP is an embarrassment.