MONTGOMERY COUNTY – A fundraising effort for a softball league in Montgomery County has some parents concerned and on edge.
“I was shocked. It’s really upsetting to me,” explained parent of three, Jessica England.
England’s daughters have been in the South Montgomery Girls Softball League for nearly a decade combined, and she says they love every minute of it.
“They’ve done a 50/50 raffle, raffles for half off or free registration for the next season premium parking spots… that sort of thing,” noted England.
But one thing she has never seen is a raffle like this.
“I was like, okay not my favorite thing in the world but it’s Texas, it’s Montgomery County,” England said.
She got an email about a fall fundraiser and they were raffling off a gun. One entry is $25 and five entries are $100.
“It would be one thing if they were raffling off a hunting rifle, it’s about to be hunting season,” noted England. “This a semi-automatic Smith and Wesson AR 15 style rifle, one of those big scary-looking guns.”
According to the SMGSL Website page where they have the raffle posted, it says, “Each ticket will get you a chance to win the prize of a Smith & Wesson 15T II 5.65 or a Glock 17 Gen 5 (9mm) at Spring Gun and Ammo. All money raised will benefit South Montgomery Girls Softball League. The raffle will be held in person during the end-of-season tournament.”
England says her concerns lie more with the timing and the “type” of weapon being raffled off.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for a children’s activity to be raffling off this type of weapon. They wouldn’t raffle off a liquor and tobacco basket, they wouldn’t raffle off a gift card to a dispensary, those are not appropriate for children’s activities and I don’t think this is either.”
England made a formal complaint along with some other parents voicing her concerns.
“Not even four months ago, 19 children and two teachers were gunned down using a semi-automatic assault rifle just like the one being raffled here,” England said.
South Montgomery Girls Softball League stands behind their raffle choice and sent KPRC the following statement:
“SMGSL is currently aware of 3 complaints regarding our gun raffle, out of our membership of 525 families. The gun raffle is a legal and common practice. All winners will need to pass a background check before receiving any prize. If winners don’t pass the background check, they are deemed ineligible. SMGSL strives to be responsive to the needs of our membership and will poll all league members to solicit their feedback on the direction of future raffles. If a substantial portion of our membership wants a change in this area, we will make the adjustment in subsequent raffle events.”
KPRC spoke with a gun shop and management says they see gun raffles all the time. They told KPRC that they even had a Boy Scout group purchase a gun to raffle off as a fundraiser last year. After the organization or person purchases the gun, they will hold onto the weapons until the winner comes to pick it up. The winner must also pass the background check in order for it to be released.
England understands there will always be two sides.
“It’s such a polarizing controversial issue and I know that my personal beliefs are not the same as everyone else in my neighborhood or in my softball league,” she explained. “People in Texas have very strong opinions and very different opinions about guns in general.”
Other parents have expressed off camera that they are fine with the raffle being held. One parent said that because the children are not directly involved, the raffle is a great way to raise funds for the league.
But on a topic that England feels so strongly about, she says she will continue to stand up for what she believes in on behalf of her children.
“Staying quiet isn’t a thing anymore,” she said.
We also asked the SMGSL if this was the first time they have ever raffled off a gun. We are waiting on a response. The winner will be drawn at the end of the softball season in November.
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