An episode of the cartoon comedy Family Guy once lampooned the generally gun-loving state of Texas by showing a fictional policy that entitled the purchaser of a bottle of liquor to a free gun with each bottle, but a real gun store in Georgia has a more civic-minded approach to promoting gun ownership.
Show up at owner Jay Wallace’s store Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna, Georgia with your sticker showing you voted, and you will be entered into a contest to win a free Browning rifle or a Glock handgun. Of course, to comply with the state law, you can show up at the store without having voted and still be entered into the raffle without the need to make a purchase or any other restriction as long as you have the legal right to purchase a gun in the state.
CBS reports that Georgia prohibits anyone from giving or receiving money or gifts in exchange for voting, and a sign posted at the front of Wallace’s store explains that the contest is actually open to all Georgia residents legally able to purchase a firearm.
The Cherokee Tribune reports state Senator Vincent Fort raised questions about the legality of the promotion, which prompted Wallace to contact the Secretary of State’s office to ensure it was a legal promotion. He placed eight billboards in the area with the “I’m a Georgia voter” sticker the words, “Vote. Win a rifle.” Under those words, the sentence “Bring your Georgia voter sticker in for a chance to win a Browning rifle” appeared.
If the contest to win a free gun were restricted to voters only, it would be illegal. Open to everyone, its more of an election time special as opposed to a voter incentive, and it is therefore legal.
“Should they violate what they told our office they would do, then that will be taken into account and actions will be taken accordingly,” Secretary of State spokesman Jared Thomas said.
Even the state senator that launched the complaint seems to have come around, at least partially.
“Now that that they’ve expanded it and allow all customers to participate, I think it’s a legal raffle,” Fort said. “I don’t have any objections to it if it complies with the law.”
Wallace said his store and voter gun giveaway are not trying to influence the election in any way but rather get people to take up their civic duty and become more involved. Moreover, he said reaction to the gun raffle has been almost all positive, though some emails from the anti-gun crowd have been received.
“It’s not only to encourage people to vote, it’s encouraging people to get involved in the process,” he said. “What we want to do is we want people to talk with one another and pay attention to what our politicians are doing.
“We received some almost slanderous emails,” Wallace added. “I would say they’re on the side of not liking guns, to put it mildly.”
While Fort does now believe that the store’s voter gun giveaway turned open to everyone raffle is now legal, he’s not sure the store has done enough. He said there may be more action taken because the billboard imply that the contest is open to voters only even if that is not the case.
“He doesn’t say when he expanded it or give any supporting documentation about it being open to other people. I think he ought to change the billboards,” Fort said. “I may follow up with the letter with the Secretary of State asking him to request the billboard be changed, but we’ll see. I’m getting the impression that (Wallace) could care less or doesn’t really care if people vote or not. It’s a promotion. It’s advertising, and that’s what he’s concerned about.”
Wallace didn’t deny that he liked the publicity of the dispute between Fort and his promotion. His store’s exposure has likely been increased.
“I appreciate him bringing this to further light for people to see. He’s done a good job,” Wallace said.
The store is located in the Atlanta, Georgia suburb of Smryna. The raffle to win a free gun, while promoting the cause of voting, will take place on November 12, a few days after the election.