A fundraiser for a central Kentucky girls softball team has gotten some attention, both positive and negative, for plans to raffle off both an AR-15 and a semi-automatic pistol to help cover costs of tournaments, uniforms and other equipment.
The fundraiser, which ends on March 24, is to benefit the Central Kentucky BatCats, a team for girls 10 years old and younger based in Lawrenceburg, said Coach Kevin Beasley.
The winners will have to pass a background checks before taking their gun home, said Kenny Barnett, owner of Fully Loaded Inc. Fully Loaded is providing the guns at a discount for the raffle and will be conducting the background checks on the winners.
“The only difference here is the individual is giving a donation to a kids softball team for a chance to win said item,” Barnett said. “But once they win, they still have to go through the same rigorous background checks as they would if they walked into a gun shop and picked it up off the shelf.”
Fully Loaded Inc. has facilitated fundraisers like this one for several years, with each raffle bringing anywhere from $5,000 to $7,500 for kids softball teams in Anderson County, Barnett said.
But in light of recent shootings involving AR-15s, including the one in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17, some have taken to social media and other outlets to call the fundraiser insensitive.
“I discovered it probably just as the news was unraveling about Florida and I thought, you know, what kind of example is this for these little children ... something that kills so quickly and violently as that kind of gun,” Lexington resident Diana Nave said of the raffle.
Nave said she, and others that she’d spoken with, believed the raffling of an AR-15 for an organization involving young children did not show good moral leadership.
Beasley said the girls on the team have not been directly involved with the fundraiser.
“I understand their concerns but I, like a lot of our supporters, understand that guns don’t kill, people do and I think that’s where they need to start,” Beasley said. “This is a great way to raise money and really the girls have nothing to do with it, the adults sell the tickets.”
Barnett said he has received some complaints about the fundraiser, but that the majority of people contacting him wanted to support the raffle.
But for people like Nave, the fundraiser is still troubling. She said she is not anti-gun, but she is against a gun like an AR-15 being available to civilians.
“It is designed to kill as many people as possible, which is great if you’re in a war, but there’s no reason for a civilian to have one,” Nave said.
Though debates about gun ownership and control have been going on for years, Nave said she feels that things are different after the shooting in Parkland, Fla.
“I have been aware of a deep need for sensible gun laws for a long, long time now,” Nave said. “But now, it seems like something in the air is changing.”
Kids sports raffles for AR-15s are not only found in Kentucky. In Missouri, it was reported this week that third-graders have been selling tickets for an AR-15 to fund their own baseball team. In Cameron Park, Calif., organizers apologized for a firefighting fundraiser that included an AR-15 raffle.
In addition to their raffle, the Central Kentucky BatCats have set up a GoFundMe account for donations.