Mecklenburg sheriff cancels his gun-raffle fundraiser after Florida school shootings

Mecklenburg sheriff cancels his gun-raffle fundraiser after Florida school shootings

CHARLOTTE, NC (Bruce Henderson/The Charlotte Observer) - Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael has canceled a reelection campaign raffle of firearms, including assault rifles of the kind used to kill 17 people Wednesday at a Florida school, that was to be held Saturday.

Carmichael tweeted about the event in November, picturing 15 handguns and long guns including three semiautomatic assault-style rifles. Raffle tickets were $50 each or three for $100.

"In light of what has happened and out of respect for the families affected by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Saturday's Gun Raffle event has been canceled," Carmichael said in a statement Thursday. "My heartfelt condolences and sympathies go out to the victims and families of this senseless tragedy."

"As the elected Sheriff, I fully understand the difference between responsible gun ownership and senseless gun violence and holding a gun raffle would not serve to advance the values close to my heart or the principles of my Office."

The November tweet, and a post for the raffle on Carmichael's reelection Facebook page, were deleted Thursday morning.

Reaction to announcement of the raffle in November was mixed.

"I think that it's the wrong tone to set. I think it's extraordinarily insensitive," Colette Forrest told Spectrum News. "I could not believe that a local elected official would be so insensitive to use guns as a fundraising tool and not just regular guns but Glocks, and AK and AR-7s."

Charlotte gun shop owner Larry Hyatt said raffle winners would undergo the same background checks as retail buyers. "Good causes, fundraisers, good people getting guns is not a bad idea," he told Spectrum.

Carmichael, a retired Charlotte firefighter elected sheriff in 2014, is a karate expert who developed a personal safety and awareness program called Women's Awareness Response. He also produced a child safety and abduction video, according to his campaign website.