Adult volunteers at a North Carolina elementary school have defended themselves after outraged parents complained about the volunteer group organizing a rifle raffle.
The Sanoca Southern Gentlemen, a group composed of about 25 men in Wilson County, North Carolina, say they had no ill intention when offering to auction off a rifle as a school fundraiser. According to one group member, the men are all simply "avid hunters" who are also dads.
"There's 25 of us in this committee," Ryan Beamon, chairman of the Sanoca Southern Gentlemen chapter of Delta Waterfow, told the Wilson Times. "We're all avid hunters, but we're dads first. All of us have kids. When one of our committee members came to us with a need for the kids, we jumped on it. We didn't expect a backlash."
To help raise funds at Lucama Elementary, the group of men offered to auction off a 50-caliber in-line muzzle-loader CVA Optima-brand rifle. The weapon is commonly used for hunting deer.
"The gun is a muzzle-loading rifle, which is the most primitive form of firearm that exists other than a slingshot," Chris Williams, the Delta Waterfowl Foundation's regional director, told the local newspaper.
After parents discovered the organization's plan to auction a rifle, some parents were outraged, suggesting that the sale of a rifle would send off the wrong message to children.
"It sure does send a bad message because historically, there has been a lot of tragedy in schools," Lucama Elementary parent Priscila Santiago told the Times. "I think it would be sending a message that's not appropriate."
Williams claims that the groups' effort is genuine and not loaded with an agenda.
"You've got local volunteers who live in the community, and all they're sincerely trying to do is help the children in that school," Williams said. "We're not trying to promote a philosophy or a way of life."
Tickets for the raffle rifle will be sold at the school's fun fair, which takes place off campus. The school was required to sign off on the fundraising campaign but was not involved in its planning.