Free Guns Are Now a COVID-Vaccine Incentive in the US

Some lucky vaxxed people in this state will win one of 10 custom-made rifles and shotguns in a Father’s Day drawing.
June 1, 2021, 10:23pm
Member of the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team receives the vaccine in Riggleman Hall on the campus of the University of Charleston, West Virginia.
Member of the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team receives the vaccine in Riggleman Hall on the campus of the University of Charleston, West Virginia. (Photo by Stephen Zenner / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

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Get a shot for a chance to fire a shot—from a brand-new rifle. That’s how West Virginia is trying to boost its lagging vaccination numbers before the start of the summer.

Anyone in the state who gets at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to enter to win one of 10 custom-made rifles and shotguns and a range of other prizes in a drawing on June 20, which is Father’s Day.

“This is for all people that have been vaccinated: If you got vaccinated back in the end of December or the beginning of January, absolutely you are eligible,” Republican Gov. Jim Justice said during his COVID-19 response press briefing Tuesday morning. “Save a life and change your life. The more we can get vaccinated, the faster we’ll get to saving all kinds of additional lives and saving lots of money for the state of West Virginia.”

West Virginia, coincidentally, has some of the weakest gun laws and one of the highest gun-death rates in the nation, according to the Giffords Law Center.

And it’s got a fairly poor record on vaccinations compared to other states. As of June 1, just 40 percent of West Virginia residents had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the New York Times. Just 33 percent of the population have been fully vaccinated, ranking it 43rd out of the 50 states.

“I said it before, but I can’t stand to have Ohio get ahead of us on anything,” Gov. Justice joked of his neighboring state, which is currently the 32nd-ranked state for vaccines administered. Ohio has made headlines with its Vax-a-Million lottery incentivizing people with several chances to win $1 million.

In addition to the firearms, vaccinated West Virginians have a shot at winning several other prizes come Father’s Day: At least one person will win $1 million. The state also will be randomly handing out 25 weekend getaways to state parks, five lifetime hunting and fishing licenses, and two custom-outfitted trucks tailor-made for the outdoors.

Kids and young adults between the age of 12 and 25 have a shot at winning one of two full rides to the West Virginia university of their choice.

The lottery won’t end there. Between June 20 and Aug. 4, those who get at least one jab of a vaccine will have one of seven chances to win anywhere between $588,000 to $1.58 million over the course of seven weeks.

West Virginia joins a host of other states and businesses offering some appealing prizes to people who get vaccinated. States like California, Delaware, Ohio, and New York have entered vaccinated Americans into a chance to win millions of dollars. Private companies like Krispy Kreme, Six Flags, and others have joined in the national effort to get the country fully vaccinated with free donuts, amusement park tickets, beer, and even weed.

As of Tuesday, a little more than half of U.S. adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.