A small town in Oregon finds itself in the middle of its own gun debate.
A rifle similar to an AR-15 is being raffled off in Dallas, OR, to raise money for a girls softball team, according to multiple reports. Some residents of the town have called the decision “tone deaf” in the light of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that took the lives of 17 people.
“It honestly disgusts me,” Dallas resident William Johnson told the Associated Press. “An AR-15, that’s meant to kill somebody. That should not be in a civilian’s hands, let alone should be raffled off like this.”
The Lady Dragons fast-pitch softball program is attempting to raise funds to pay for equipment and field improvements and to keep registration fees for families low, per Salem's Statesman Journal. Part of that fundraiser is to raffle off a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle on April 4, according to an event flyer, among other items.
A statement sent to the paper from the Lady Dragons program said that the raffle is “legal” and “well regulated.”
"While we sympathize with current events and the climate surrounding them, this is a legal, well-regulated raffle, with tickets being sold to willing and able purchasers,” the statement read.
Some people, though, believe it is in poor taste considering all that has gone one recently. Retail stores Dick’s, Kroger, and Walmart have all raised the age to buy guns to 21 years old since the Parkland shooting Feb. 14. The alleged killer in the shooting, Nikolas Cruz, is 19.
Gun control has once again become a heated debate since then. An AR-15-style rifle, based on the military's M16, was also used by the Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock in October, leading to 59 deaths and more than 800 injuries.
“I played football for a couple of years,” Johnson said. “We sold jerky. We walked around, washed people’s cars, mowed lawn, stuff like that. That is what we did — we didn’t auction off rifles.”
Others in Dallas, meanwhile, feel like the softball program is well within its rights to raffle off the gun.
“If it’s to help their sport and it’s legal, then they should have the right to do it,” resident Chuck Horton told the AP.
Horton, himself, said he owns an AR-15.
“You could use it for self-defense, you could use it for hunting,” Horton said. “I do a lot of target practicing and that’s what I use it for.”
By Marc Raimondi