A Michigan high school has canceled a fundraiser for its football team after outrage ensued over one of the prizes being offered: an AR-15 rifle. As WWJ-TV (Detroit) reports, the raffle was seen by some as being in extremely poor taste in light of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
South Lyon High School booster club insists that no one was trying to be insensitive when they started selling raffle tickets for the AR-15, which is a military-style weapon that the National Rifle Association (NRA) calls “the most popular rifle in America.” Rather, they say, the raffle just made sense, considering the preponderance of outdoor sportsmen in the area.
What’s more, the fundraiser where the winner of the rifle was to be awarded his prize was not going to be attended by children, and no firearms were going to have been distributed at the event. Further, the would-be winner would have had to undergo a background check.
Despite precautions, however, the raffle appears to have been undone by timing. Occurring just days after a disgruntled former student allegedly opened fire on his old high school and killed 17 people, the timing of the raffle was seen by some as insensitive. It has been cancelled.
More tone deafness….. at least South Lyon Michigan had the decency to cancel. https://t.co/oW3co7Pzux
— Tery K. Bailey-Holly (@LisaMacNewton) February 20, 2018
In a statement, the booster club explained that it was never their intention to come off as insensitive.
“At no point did the Booster club intend to offend those sensitive to the topic of firearms.”
A similar raffle in Missouri also drew international condemnation last week. As reported by the Inquisitr, a youth baseball team in Neosho, Missouri was also in the process of trying to raise money by raffling an AR-15 when the Florida shooting occurred. Despite the shooting, children as young as seven continued to sell raffle tickets, and no moves were made to cancel the event, despite widespread outrage.
In fact, the issue remains controversial in the southwestern Missouri town to this day. According to a Neosho Daily News report from Wednesday, just about everyone of importance in the town is trying to distance themselves from the raffle. For example, Neosho School District public relations director Meagan Spangler issued a statement confirming that the raffle was in no way associated with the town’s public schools.
“The Neosho 9U team hosting the raffle is not affiliated with Neosho School District and the raffle has at no point been school sanctioned.”
South Elementary School principal Lee Woodward, whose child is one of the kids who sold raffle tickets, wants no part of it, either.
“It was never my intention to offend anyone but to simply support my son and his teammates. My family is no longer participating in the fundraiser and because of death threats and other violence toward my family from across the nation, I have chosen not to comment further on this topic.”
City of Neosho Attorney Steve Hays, similarly, says that the City will not take an official position on the matter.
“The City of Neosho and its City Council have taken no official position on this matter, but leaves each opinion to its citizenry who is trusted to be well-informed and capable of deciding individually as to the propriety of the raffle.”
Meanwhile, another southwest Missouri youth baseball team is attempting to raise money by raffling off an AR-15. Over in Webb City, about 30 miles away, the Webb City Makos youth team began selling raffle tickets for the weapon before the Florida shooting. The team has no plans to discontinue the raffle.