Gun raffles or giveaways aren’t anything new, especially in rural parts of the country. But they’re drawing renewed scrutiny after 17 people were killed last week in a mass shooting at a Florida high school.
Some people are outraged that a lot of gun raffles are giving away AR-15-style rifles, the type used in multiple mass shootings. Police say Nikolas Cruz used an AR-15-style rifle February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
A raffle currently underway in Kentucky is raising funds for the Central Kentucky Batcats, a girls’ softball team. Buy a $10 ticket and you could win a semiautomatic pistol or an AR-15-style rifle kit.
While some people have complained about the raffle – which began before the Florida shooting – the store has mostly received calls of support, said Kenny Barnett, owner of Fully Loaded Inc., an outdoor and sporting goods store in Lawrenceburg that’s providing the guns for the raffle.
“I’ve had calls both ways,” Barnett told CNN. “For every one against, I’ve probably had 10 more asking where can they buy tickets?”
The winner will also have to go through a background check, just like if they were purchasing the guns.
Barnett has talked with people who’ve called criticizing the raffle but says he feels like what he tells them just goes “in one ear and out the other.”
His store has provided the guns for many such raffles through the years, and the money is much needed. The costs of equipping a softball team and their travel each season can reach as high as $15,000. A gun raffle can raise as much as $7,500 for the team in just a couple months, Barnett told CNN.
But Joell Finney, a retired teacher, saw a flier for the raffle and thinks it’s in poor taste – not just because of the Florida shooting but because it involves kids.
“I was truly astonished that a group of people purportedly supporting young girls under the age of 10 would be willing to raffle guns, rifles, automatic weapons as a way to raise money for their crew. That’s just repulsive,” Finney told CNN affiliate WTVQ.
A number of other gun rifle giveaways across the country have stirred controversy as well:
A Kansas congressional hopeful said Monday that he’s sticking by his campaign giveaway of an AR-15 rifle despite criticism in light of the Florida shooting.
“We aren’t using this to raise money,” Tyler Tannahill told HLN’s Carol Costello. “We had this planned over a month ago to kind of coincide with the Kansas Republican Convention.”
The Republican candidate launched the giveaway along with his candidacy on February 13, a day before the Florida shooting.
A Christian school in Post Falls is moving forward with its raffle, planned for March 10, which includes a chance to win a firearm, among other items. Classical Christian Academy said it had received “many supportive calls, as well as a few critical comments.”
A group of third-graders in Neosho are selling raffle tickets for an AR-15 to raise money for their baseball team, the Kansas City Star reports.
A booster club for a high school football program in South Lyon, near Detroit, canceled a “Wild Game” charity dinner that was to include raffling off a number of guns, including an AR-15. A statement announcing the cancellation said the decision was made because of the Florida high school shooting.
“At no point did the Booster club intend to offend those sensitive to the topic of firearms,” the statement read. “The sensitivity of the issue coupled with the untimely tragedy has led to the decision.”
An AR-15 rifle will be raffled off Saturday in Matamoras during a dinner of the Gun Owners of America, the Times Herald-Record reports. A group of gun control advocates and Pennsylvania Democratic Party activists plan to protest outside the hotel where the dinner will be held.
A group of moms in Cameron Park, outside Sacramento, were angry when they went to a firefighters fundraiser earlier this week that raffled off an AR-15 rifle as the main prize, according to CNN affiliate KOVR.
A youth trap shooting club in Lincoln was asked to remove social media references to its upcoming fundrasier, which includes an AR-15 raffle, the Lincoln Journal Star reports. The Lincoln Northeast Trap Club said the request was made by local school officials.
After parents in Kent this week protested the local volunteer fire department’s plans to raffle off an AR-15, the firefighters changed the prize to a gift certificate from a local gun shop, according to the New York Times.
CNN’s Andrew Dunn contributed to this report.