New Richmond, OH – A couple of moms with daughters new on the cheer squad for the New Richmond Junior Lions Football organization are angry that their daughters have been asked to sell tickets to win a semi-automatic rifle for the group’s fourth annual gun raffle.
The members of the cheer squad are selling raffle tickets for an AM15 optic-ready M4 and the football team is selling tickets to win a 9mm Glock, WKRC reported.
“This is absurd, you’re having elementary kids sell your AR-15. Why?” Heather Chilton ranted to 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 AM15 and shot up a school with it, and I’m the one that sold the raffle ticket to his dad?”
Chilton said that shortly after her daughter joined the cheer squad, she received an email that said each member of the team needed to sell five raffle tickets for the rifle and five raffle tickets for a gift basket. The tickets are $10 each.
“I can’t see them selling some type of semi-automatic rifle when we have all these mass shootings going on, going door to door,” she said.
But New Richmond Junior Lions Football President Robert Wooten, who has five children himself, said nobody had to sell the gun tickets and everybody had been given an alternative raffle option, WXIX reported.
“They are not obligated. They are not required to participate in the gun raffle. We do suggest it," Wooten said. “We recommend it just because the money we receive is obviously needed for us to continue to provide sports for our community.”
He said that whomever wins the raffles for the Glock and the AM15 will have to pass federal background checks before they can take possession of the gun, according to WXIX.
Wooten said the league has done the same raffle successfully for four years and this is the first time he’s had complaints – exactly two of them, WKRC reported.
Despite the fact that she can opt out of her daughter selling raffle tickets for guns, Sari Brittain said she thought raffling off deadly weapons was an “unnecessary risk.”
“We live in a world where you don’t know if Bob down the street is okay with guns. So why would I take my 4-year-old daughter down the street to meet Bob who's not okay with it? And now he knows my face and my daughter's face,” Brittain said.
Chilton said that even though her daughter could opt out of selling tickets for the gun raffle, she is uncomfortable with other team members selling them, WXIX reported.
But despite the moms’ objections, Wooten said the media attention their complaints garnered has actually increased demand for raffle tickets for both gun prizes, WKRC reported.
“Each parent was asked to sell 10 tickets per family or per child. Since this has hit the press, the demand for it has increased substantially," the club president said.
He said the raffle fundraiser will continue this year and his organization will re-evaluate the prizes for next year, WKRC reported.
But the organization needed big ticket raffle prizes that will draw a lot of financial support for the cheerleaders and football players.
Wooten said that last year, the New Richmond Junior Lions Football spent $4,000 on insurance and equipment for the kids, WXIX reported.
The two moms who complained said they don’t care.
“They should do brownie bakes and cakes and bikes and ‘Go Team,’” Chilton told WCPO. “Not, ‘Hey, you want to buy a gun? I know I’m only seven years old, but that’s what we’re selling!’”