Elementary school students in New Richmond, Ohio are being asked to sell raffle tickets for an AR-15 optic ready rifle to raise money for a nonprofit’s Junior Lions Football and Cheer program. While this horrifying practice is being heavily criticized by parents today, it’s somehow been a popular fundraiser in the past.
Oh—And New Richmond is just an hour away from Dayton, Ohio, where a white man shot 26 people in 32 seconds with an AR-15 style assault rifle.
“This is absurd, you’re having elementary kids sell your AR-15. Why?” Heather Chilton, who said her seven-year-old daughter was asked to sell the tickets, told CNN affiliate WXIX. “I highly doubt that something would happen with the gun, but say it did. Say one of the kids in the high school got a hold of it — got the AR-15 or AM-15 and shot up a school with it, and I’m the one that sold the raffle ticket to his dad?”
Here’s how the raffle works. Chilton told WXIX that she received an email in July explaining that all cheer team members had to sell five gift basket raffle tickets as well as five AM-15 raffle tickets. The tickets are $10 each. If they didn’t do all of this, they’d face a $100 fee per child who opted out.
The league’s president, Robert Wooten, told CNN that members of the board choose the raffle prize each year. The gun, which has been raffled off in the last four cycles, has been a popular fundraising item.
“It’s easy to sell. It’s a hot item,” Wooten said. This year, Wooten noted, the gun raffle tickets “sold like hot cakes.” The winner will have to pass an FBI background check before receiving the gun.
“We are compassionate [on] where people may be on the gun issue,” Wooten told CNN. “This was not a way for us to promote gun violence or incite violence. We are going to reevaluate this next year.”
For the time being, since the recent complaints, Wooten has said that parents uncomfortable with the gun raffle tickets can sell more for the gift baskets instead. But Chilton is understandably still uneasy with the gun raffle tickets being sold from other team members, period.
“With me doing this, I’m teaching the girls they have to stand up for what they believe,” Chilton told the station. “This is something that they shouldn’t even have to worry about dealing with or even be around.”