Gun raffle held by local volunteer fire departments raises questions

BRYANS ROAD, Md. (WJLA) - It is standing room only at this firehouse fundraiser. And while there are plenty of prizes in the raffle, the big draw on Saturday night is guns – from handguns to rifles, and everything in between.

The firefighters{ } from Bryans Road and Accokeek tell ABC7 that they were looking for a surefire way to raise money, but some are criticizing the timing of the gun giveaway so close to the Navy Yard shootings -- three of the victims were from Southern Maryland.

"Most of us firemen are hunters, and we've got friends who are hunters," says Deputy Chief Josh Carlson. "The whole area is rural -- a lot of departments have done it and it's worked out well for them."

"It was truly a tragedy that we had to deal with," adds Chief Dave McCormick. "We talked about it, but we were too far into the planning process to make any cancellation plans."

The two volunteer fire departments are raising money at Bryans Road to supports its new, $4 million facility. Accokeek is also hoping to upgrade its aging fleet and firehouse. But Prince George’s County said it was uncomfortable with Accokeek holding a gun raffle at its own house.

"It was just the message that a public safety agency should not be holding a gun raffle within the confines of a fire and EMS station," says Mark Brady with the PGFD.

So they crossed county lines and held it in conjunction with Bryans Road.

"At the end of the day, when this is all broken down, the fire trucks will be back in here," says Carlson. "We'll jump on them and get out the door."