Bad Call: Gun Retailer Denied Little League Sponsorship

Nothing is more aggravating to baseball fans than a bad call by those officiating a game. And in New Jersey last week, the committee in charge of a little league program made a real stinker.

In an 8-1 vote, the South Orange-Maplewood (NJ) Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken baseball league rejected an offer from a local licensed firearms retailer to become a $300 sponsor for his son's team because of the potential controversy it may cause.

Matt Carmel, owner of Constitution Arms in Maplewood, called the decision "arbitrary, capricious and unfair."

According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper, the gun dealer and NRA-certified pistol instructor offered to sponsor his son's little league team for an annual fee of $300--which would have included shirts bearing his store's name--but was soundly rebuffed by the volunteer committee that oversees the league.

"Personally...given the nature of that business, I'm certain there'd be quite a bit of contention," Craig Gruber, secretary of the committee, told the newspaper. "We don't need the headache...we have our hands full with deciding whether infield fly rules should be in effect for 9-year-olds."

On learning of the situation in Maplewood, the president of the nation's leading firearms trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, wrote a letter to the Star-Ledger supporting Carmel and the shooting sports.

"As much as baseball is part of the history and fabric of American culture, so too is the Second Amendment, hunting and target shooting. The latter are activities that millions of youth participate in across America," wrote NSSF president Steve Sanetti.

Sanetti went on to explain why it was patently unfair for the little league committee to attach any type of negative stigma to the responsible use and legal sale of firearms.

"The shooting sports are safe and fun for all, and a day at the range is an activity the entire family can enjoy. The lessons that organized youth sports teach involving sportsmanship, respect for teammates and authority, and winning and losing also apply to the shooting sports."

And the letter concluded: "Since this was a policy call and not an 'on the field' judgment call, we urge a review of the decision before the umpires yell 'play ball!'"