A Nottingham resident has delivered a proposal to the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police that he will work to raise the $30,000 needed for a training academy that the organization is planning to fund through a gun raffle.
Robert Sprague, who has lived in the state since 1969, said that the idea to raise money before May 1 gained traction during an interview with Concord, N.H. radio personality Arnie Arnesen. Arnesen suggested the plan on air.
Sprague has sent a letter to Salem Police Chief Paul Donovan, who is the president of the organization, to issue the request.
"We'll go to corporations and we'll go to some former political officials including Gov. Lynch who have great resources," Sprague said.
The gun raffle controversy started this month when several media outlets reported that the fundraiser being hosted by the N.H. chiefs will include semi-automatic weapons similar to those used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
The organization has sold out 1,000 raffle tickets at $30 each to raise the money needed during the raffle for the N.H. Police Cadet Training Academy. A total of 31 guns will be raffled – one for each day in May.
Sprague said that Donovan has argued that the weapons being raffled are sporting weapons.
"If the sport is killing human beings, than I guess they're sporting weapons," Sprague said.
Donovan was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday. He has previously defended the raffle in a public statement:
“While this raffle falls on the heels of the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police extends their deepest sympathies to the families and first responders,” Donovan said. “New Hampshire Chiefs of Police feel the issues with these tragic shootings are ones that are contrary to lawful and responsible gun ownership.”
Sprague said that he is willing to show both Donovan and the organization that he and his cohorts – 20 "old folks" in Nottingham and Deerfield – are reaching out in good faith.
"I have a police chief in Nottingham who is a terrific guy," Sprague said. "I think they made a mistake here. We all make mistakes. I want to create an environment where Chief Donovan has a way to get out of this. I want to create an environment where he gets what he needs for his cadet program this summer."
Sprague said that he is waiting on an answer from Donovan before he starts reaching out to corporations and others who he thinks will be willing to raise the funds.
Standing behind Sprague and his commitment to raise the funds is Arnesen, who invited him on her radio show after she read a letter that Sprague wrote to the Concord Monitor.
"My question is, will (Donovan) agree that if we produce the $30,000 legally, and if the goal is to do it legally and to raise cash for his cadet camp, can we have the guns and destroy the guns?," Arnesen said.
Arnesen added that she is totally confused with the stance that the chiefs organization is taking on the raffle, considering that they stood with Gov. Lynch on the "Stand Your Ground" legislation veto in 2011.
On her radio show, which airs on 94.7 (WNHN-FM), Arnesen said that she gave an analogy on diabetes to help clarify the situation at hand.
"If I want to raise money for a good cause, which is understanding diabetes, if I sold cupcakes to raise the money to research on diabetes to get poor kids Insulin, wouldn't you think that would be a bit bizarre," she said. "The cause is right, but why the hell use the guns to do it?"