A youth football and cheerleading group in the North Carolina mountains is defending its raffle of an assault rifle against what the organization calls both public and anonymous criticism.
The nonprofit East Henderson Youth Football and Cheer organization in East Flat Rock is selling $5 raffle tickets for a chance to win an FN 15 Patrol Carbine M-LOK, the group posted on Facebook.
The gun will be raffled during halftime of a Midget league game Oct. 1.
East Flat Rock is about 30 miles southeast of Asheville and 100 miles west of Charlotte.
The rifle “has an AR-style magazine,” WLOS reported.
Critics of the raffle say such guns are inappropriate as a fundraiser for youth. Football players in the East Henderson league are 5 to 13 years old, and cheer team members are ages 4 to 13, according to the organization.
“So proud (not!) to live in NC,” a woman posted on Facebook in reaction to the raffle.
“Sad,” another woman wrote on Facebook. “I can’t imagin(e) with all the school shootings and with children … bad 🙁 .”
“It’s disgusting and deplorable,” another woman posted.
On Facebook Thursday, the organization responded to the criticism.
“The referees aren’t volunteers, the (law enforcement officers) and first responders for the children’s safety aren’t volunteers,” organization leaders said in the post.
“The use of the field, stadium, and facilities are not free, the lost uniforms, mouthpieces, chin straps, ear pads, bows, and socks are not free,” according to the group’s post. “Equipment is not free, the insurance is not free, and all the other fees the league must pay are not imaginary.”
“ff we’re not raising enough money, we’re forced to raise fees,” organization leaders said in the Facebook post.
The group also said it’s taking applications for an official fundraiser.
“If you have a sure way to raise enough money quickly to get us through the rest of the season and still have enough to start up next season, we need you to use that energy in a positive way,” according to the post.
“We are currently raising funds to purchase new equipment and to have the ability to sponsor children in our community who cannot afford the registration fees.”
The raffle winner must be at least 21 years old and pass a background check, a league spokesperson said in a statement to WLOS.
“The AR raffle has taken place three years consecutive and brings in the most support we have ever had,” according to the statement.
This story was originally published September 3, 2022 12:25 PM.
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