- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) - United Way Worldwide wants a New Mexico affiliate to stop a planned raffle of more than 100 firearms.

The support organization for the network of nearly 1,800 local United Ways demanded last week in a cease and desist letter that the United Way of Otero County stop the raffle immediately, the Alamogordo Daily News reports (https://goo.gl/bX2hdz ).

The letter said the raffle and distribution of firearms into the community would violate the bylaws of United Way. United Way Worldwide asked the local affiliate to sign the letter and send it back to headquarters.

The demand comes after the United Way of Otero County teamed up with Western True Value to sell 2017 calendars with a raffle entry ticket attached to the calendar for $50. The raffle gave the purchaser the opportunity to be entered into a twice-weekly firearms raffle.

It would have netted the organization about $150,000 minus the cost of the background checks of the winners of the firearms.

An AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun and various caliber rifles and handguns were among the firearms slated to be included in the raffle.

United Way of Otero County spokeswoman Michelle Brideaux said the local organization has suspended the raffle.

“We currently have not signed it,” Brideaux said. “We’ve just sent a response back that we’ve removed the website for the moment. We’re waiting to hear advice from our attorney before we take any other action.”

New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence co-president Miranda Viscoli said she sent a letter to United Way Worldwide alerting the organization about the firearm raffle.

“The mission of the United Way is to mobilize the power of communities worldwide and to advance the common good,” Viscoli said. “They were raffling off an AR-15 assault weapon. Those AR-15s are designed for one thing - to kill as many people as quickly as possible. It has nothing to do with that mission.”

But Western True Value Store manager Kerry Maupin said the store has done gun raffles for different organizations and are conducted according to firearm laws.

“United Way benefits a lot of people in Otero County,” Maupin said. “I believe this person who is perpetrating this is causing harm to this organization and the community. We as a community are going to have to stand up.”

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Information from: Alamogordo Daily News, https://www.alamogordonews.com

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