Oregon Little League holds raffle for semiautomatic rifle, but parents want to stop it

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally
The poster advertising the St. Helens softball raffle — St. Helens Girls Softball
The poster advertising the St. Helens softball raffle — St. Helens Girls Softball

Earlier in March, Prep Rally brought you the story of Atwood-Hammond Little League in Illinois and the association’s bizarre decision to raise funds by raffling off an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. While the attention generated here at Prep Rally and other outlets brought additional scrutiny to the raffle, the fundraising was steadfastly defended by league officials because of the money generated by raffle itself.

Of course, part of the success of that raffle came from parents’ willingness to support and buy tickets for the raffle itself. Now that dynamic has been flipped on its head in Oregon, where a youth softball league planned to auction off a similar AR-15 assault rifle only to have the fundraiser openly criticized by parents themselves. Now the planned fundraiser may not go ahead, even though all the raffle tickets have been sold.

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As reported by The Oregonian’s Stuart Tomlinson on Oregon Live, the St. Helens girls softball league will hold a public hearing to decide whether or not to hold its scheduled DPMS Panther Oracle A-TACS AR-15 assault rifle raffle, which was not reported to the Oregon branch of the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) until Tuesday.

“I was shocked,’’ Oregon ASA Commissioner Mike Wells told the Oregonian. “Apparently a good samaritan offered the gun up for the raffle. When it came up the board probably should have asked for approval.”

As it turns out, Wells and his staff may not need to issue an official ruling on the raffle themselves, because parents of league members may veto the fundraiser on their own. A letter that was sent to The Oregonian by “concerned parents and citizens of Saint Helens” pointed out just how troubled they felt by having a league that serves children aged 8 to 16 profit on a semiautomatic weapon.

“[Opposed parents] feel that this type of raffle is unacceptable with regards to being linked to a youth sports organization. The board members are refusing to listen to our concerns and issues regarding this raffle. They have made it very clear that they do not care about how we feel about this fundraiser and will continue to sell tickets accordingly.”

Those board members are no longer selling tickets because they have already sold out. According to the league's Facebook page, the raffle raised just less than $1,600.

Now, the question is whether the raffle will go ahead against the wishes of the parents who might receive some of the financial relief that the funds from the raffle provide themselves.

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