ATLANTA (AP) — Want a chance to win a rifle or handgun? Go vote. That’s the message from an Atlanta-area sporting goods store.
The promotion caught the attention of the secretary of state’s office last week and drew a complaint from a state senator who said it may break the law.
Georgia law prohibits anyone from giving or receiving money or gifts in exchange for voting, and felony charges could be brought if the law were broken, Secretary of State Brian Kemp said in a statement.
Eight billboards for Adventure Outdoors urge people to bring in their "I voted" sticker to enter a raffle for a Glock handgun or Browning rifle. The secretary of state’s office warned the store owner that offering the raffle only to people who voted may be violating the law.
Store owner Jay Wallace said the raffle was open to anyone, even those who don’t vote.
"Getting people involved is what it’s all about," Wallace said Wednesday. "I would encourage other businesses to do the same thing."
No action will be taken as long as Wallace allows anyone to enter the contest, said Jared Thomas, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.
"Should they violate what they told our office they would do, then that will be taken into account and actions will be taken accordingly," Thomas said.
Democratic State Sen. Vincent Fort of Atlanta filed a complaint Tuesday, saying businesses are not even allowed under the law to offer free food or drinks to voters.
"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."
Reaction to the raffle has been "almost 100 percent positive," Wallace said.
"We received some almost slanderous emails," he added. "I would say they’re on the side of not liking guns, to put it mildly."
At the store in the Atlanta suburb of Smyrna, reaction was mixed among customers.
"I think people should go vote because they’re interested in the topics of what’s being voted for, whether it’s the president or your local judge," said Ernest Susco. "To promote giving a gun away for someone to go to vote, I’m not crazy about that idea."
John Keels, another customer, said it was a "pretty good idea."
"Well, since this is probably the most important election in my lifetime, anything that gets the public out to vote is good as long as it doesn’t break the law," Keels said.
Associated Press writer Johnny Clark in Smyrna, Ga., contributed to this report.