Thursday, March 14, 2013

Illinois little league raffling off AR-15 rifle to raise money for equipment

A cash-poor Illinois little league is raffling off an AR-15 rifle to help buy new equipment for its twelve teams.  Tickets for the June 29 drawing cost $20 and —despite the winner receiving the same type of gun that was used in both the Aurora theater and Sandy Hook massacres — the fundraiser has already raised thousands of dollars more than last year's drive — and more than a few eyebrows.

The Atwood-Hammond little league raffle for the semi-automatic weapon, sponsored by a local sporting goods store and the Atwood Armory, has sparked interest in buying a ticket from as far away as Washington state, said organizers.

"It has been going gangbusters," Atwood Armory co-owner Charidy Butcher said. "My phone has been ringing nonstop since 4:30 this morning. It's just been crazy."

Butcher says the high-powered rifle wasn't chosen to make a political statement and sees no relation between the fundraiser and recent incidents that have thrust gun control back into the national debate.

"We could have went with a basic shotgun or something simple," league commissioner Steven McClain said. "Guns are super hot right now, they're extremely hard to get - we decided to go that route.

"It was never a political agenda. It is what it is. We picked the rifle that would sell the most to raise the most for these organizations," he added.

Despite the controversial grand prize, the raffle organizers insist they won't let just anyone take home the sophisticated gun.

"(They) will have to go through a background check just like they were purchasing the firearm from us," Butcher said.

In previous years the league has tried to raise funding by raffling off gift cards or a hog roast.

Last year's fundraiser netted a grand total of $10.

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