An Oregon youth softball program has decided to move forward with plans to raffle off an AR-15-style assault weapon as part of its fundraiser, despite divided opinions in the city of Dallas.
The Lady Dragons fast-pitch program has been criticized for the decision to keep the firearm as part of the raffle, following the massacre of 17 people by a former student using the same type of weapon at a high school in Parkland, Florida on February 14.
The youth softball organization provided a statement to the Statesman Journal on Monday that said the program sympathizes with current events, but the fundraiser 'is a legal, well-regulated raffle, with tickets being sold to willing and able purchasers.'
Community members have voiced their upset with the decision, with former Dallas High School teacher Rebecca Penna saying 'the impression it gives is distasteful.'
Michelle Johnstone, superintendent of the Dallas School District, stressed that the program is not affiliated with the school district in any way.
Despite the division in the community, the Lady Dragons stand by their decision to continue to sell tickets for the raffle of the firearm, which was provided by a private donor.
'Raffling a high-ticket item, yes, even a firearm, has been done by similar sports organizations with great success,' the program's statement read.
Dallas City Council President Micky Garus, who sits on the board of the Lady Dragons youth program, said that many tickets have already been purchased for the raffle.
Jim Moore, director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation at Pacific