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Nonprofits benefiting from gun raffles

SHELBYVILLE, Ind. – Forget cookie dough and candy bars, in some areas like Shelby County, the big fundraisers involve guns.

"Second prize is the Camby 9mm with the laser,” said Steve Dake, who owns The Gun Den, as he showed off the flyer for an upcoming gun raffle.

It may seem uncommon to some, but gun raffles are a very common way that local nonprofits can raise money, and they make big bucks in the process.

"We can do it where they only make a couple hundred dollars, up to this one fire department banquet we do they do between $40,000 and $50,000," Dake said.

Dake says he helps out with nearly 20 gun raffles a year, raising money for anything from baseball teams to fire departments.

“(It's) pretty common because everybody likes firearms,” Dake said.

In February, he’s helping out the Shelbyville Eagles lodge with their gun raffle called “Gun Palooza." A $50 ticket puts you in the running for nine guns, all to raise money for local families in need.

“You can make $6,000 to $8,000 just helping people out," said one of the organizers of the fundraiser Ronnie Phelps. "That's what it’s about, just helping other people.”

Organizations that hold gun raffles must have a gaming license. The Gun Den is supplying the Eagles with discounted guns, and Dake will also be there to run background checks on all the winners.

“Before a gun leaves, they will do the background check and everything," Phelps said. "If you have a felony, don’t purchase a ticket… because you’re not going to leave with a gun.”

With flyers for local gun raffles hanging in his shop, it's obvious the gun raffle business keeps Dake pretty busy. However, knowing where the money is going makes it worth it.

"That’s one of the main reasons I do it," Dake said. "Helping people is a big part of my life."

The fundraiser is on February 23. You can pick up your raffle ticket at The Gun Den or the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Shelbyville.

The Friends of the NRA hosts the original "Gun Palooza" fundraiser in Shelby County. Last year, the event raised nearly $80,000 by raffling off more than 200 guns. In total, the Friends of the NRA raised $1.4 million statewide, mainly from gun raffles.

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