State Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, says a campaign event he will hold this month will be legal.
The fund-raiser, which will be held in Pacific, will involve someone who donates $100 getting an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
The Missouri Constitution was amended by voters in 1998 to say that, “Any organization recognized as charitable or religious pursuant to federal law may sponsor raffles and sweepstakes in which a person risks something of value for a prize.”
Nieves agreed that his campaign would not fall under the category of religious or charitable.
“That’s why we don’t do raffles,” he said. “We don’t even have tickets.”
He said his event is not a lottery or raffle but a sporting clays fund-raiser. This type of event is normal, he said, adding that his campaign has given away a lot of guns over 12 years.
The attorney general’s website states that gambling with very few exceptions is illegal in Missouri. The exceptions are highly regulated and include games such as the state lottery and licensed bingo as well as riverboat gambling.
The attorney general’s websites states that three elements make up an illegal promotion: A “prize,” which is any benefit, cash or property awarded to a winner; “chance,” which means the winner is chosen by “luck” with little or no skill or ability involved; and “consideration,” which is the exchange of something of value for the opportunity to participate in the game.
Nieves said his event is not in conflict with the state Constitution because people are giving $100 to support his campaign not win the AR-15.
The gun, he said, could be considered a gift from his campaign to his contributors.
Those who give a $100 contribution to the campaign get to decide how the recipient of the gun is chosen, Nieves said. There is a “gigantic difference” between that method and a ticket being drawn, he said.
Choosing the person who gets the gun can involve audience participation, and people have a lot of fun with it, Nieves added.
This event, which will be Oct. 12 at the St. Louis Skeet & Trap Club, will raise money for his final run for the State Senate in 2014.
There will be more AR-15 rifles given away at the event if more than 50 people make $100 donations, he said.
He further defended the event, saying it will be done in a transparent manner in terms of campaign donations. The campaign finance reporting requirements are more stringent for $100 compared to smaller amounts, he said.
Events such as his are done throughout the “campaign world,” Nieves said, adding that he makes sure he is “on the good side of the law.”
Whoever gets the gun will have to pick it up at the store and go through the normal background check process, he said.
Nieves said the gun that will be given away is not an assault rifle because it is not fully automatic. It has a standard clip size of 30 rounds and can be used for a variety of purposes from hunting to defense.