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Some Rankled As Portage Police Union Plans To Give Away AR-15 As Raffle Prize

PORTAGE, Ind. (CBS) -- Some residents and a local lawmaker are taking issue as the Fraternal Order of Police in Portage, Indiana is giving away an assault rifle as a top raffle prize.

As CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reported, it costs only $5 for a chance to win an AR-15 at the fundraiser for Portage, Indiana's local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 145. Its members say it's a common way to raise cash.

The area's Senator doesn't care.

"Buy a ticket, win an assault rifle – I can't believe that really doing that," said Indiana state Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage).

Tallian, who has spoken up for certain gun control measures in the past, said raffling an assault style weapon, now at this time, is a bad idea.

"Do a hunting rifle. You know, we don't need handguns and AR-15s out, you know, being pushed by the police department out into the community," Tallian said.

Portage resident Sandy Segally agrees.

"You hear about a shooting just about every day, and the latest being the six officers that were shot in Philadelphia – and they were shot with an AR-15," she said. "I just think this is wrong.

But the lodge's law enforcement leaders defend the raffle, even as Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney calls for tougher assault style rifle controls.

"Our officers need help. They need help. They need help with gun control. They need help with keeping these weapons out of these people's hands," Kenney said after the Wednesday incident.

The FOP, which has the same address as Portage's Police Department, is also defending the raffle after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio this month.

Lodge leaders say they have sympathy for the victims. FOP 145 officials also state. "We are of the belief that the blame for such crimes lie with the person and not the weapon."

And critics?

"They need to come up with something else – I don't know, maybe a vacation somewhere," Segally said.

On Friday night, the mayor and police chief in Portage backed the raffle. The police chief said he supports responsible gun ownership, and added that the money raised will go to many good causes.

He also said whoever wins the AR-15 will have to undergo a background check.

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