A school in Minnesota has come under heavy criticism after it announced a raffle where people would have the chance to win an AR-15 assault rifle. The same model of rifle that was used in the recent Florida school shooting where 17 people lost their lives when a former student stormed the premises and began to kill indiscriminately. The raffle is being held to raise money for a 3rd grade baseball team in order to cover travel costs. The gut itself was donated as a prize by one of the player’s fathers.
Wyandotte has a huge gun raffle/wild game dinner every year, and just about every school in Northern Michigan does too. An AR-15 is a very popular hunting gun . Sooo yup other schools do LEGALLY RAFFLE AR-15s— grace (@seymour_grace) 18 February 2018
The competition drew attention after an image was posted of the school’s logo next to the AR-15 assault rifle although the school board has distanced itself from the raffle. Despite the online backlash, Levi Patterson who coaches the team defended the competition, saying that they came up with the idea before the shooting and ultimately decided to “turn it into a positive thing” despite “getting the hate”. Speaking about the criticism Patterson described the backlash as a product of a hate group, saying,
“One of the people from the hate group turned in (a Facebook post about the raffle) for I don’t know what.” Although he later changed his stance, adding, “I applaud them for standing up for what they believe in. I just think they have feelings to this specific type of gun (that are) different than people around here do.”
Last night in the lobby of my high school, one day after another school shooting, an AR-15 was raffled off. You shouldn’t be able to win a gun in a raffle. A school shouldn’t be distributing guns. Kids athletic fundraising shouldn’t be tied to kids peddling guns. #GunReformNow pic.twitter.com/JIDFJqsLoS— Ted Hanson (@tjh_32) 17 February 2018
Meanwhile the internet hasn’t exactly slowed its criticism down. One user wrote,
“Are you all tone deaf? AR15 kills seventeen so you raffle a gun for child sports? Lord, people wake the hell up. Justify all you want but you are wrong, period.”
But Patterson responded quickly, saying,
“We appreciate your ‘concern’ but please understand, we are not, have not, and will not force one of our boys to sell raffle tickets for the Black Rain AR15 Spec 15, if they are uncomfortable doing so.”
In what he called a show of support for the Second Amendment, Republican congressional candidate from Kansas says he’s going ahead with fundraising raffle of AR-15, the type of weapon authorities say was used in Florida school shooting that killed 17. https://t.co/NpEEXtSjPL— AP Central U.S. (@APCentralRegion) 15 February 2018
This is occurring days after Republican candidate Tyler Tannahil who is running for Congress in Kansas has offered a free giveaway of an AR-15 as part of his campaign. Despite fierce criticism he too has refused to back down on the issue.