Gun raffle fundraiser for girls rugby team sparks controversy

Posted at 7:24 PM, Apr 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-30 21:24:45-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah – A fundraiser for a southern Utah sports team sparked controversy after parents donated guns to be raffled off.

The fundraiser was for the Snow Canyon Lady Warriors, a high school girls rugby team. The girls are raising money for a trip to the national competition in Wisconsin. The Washington County School District approved a rummage/bake sale.

"One of the parents who were there, volunteering their time and being helpful," says Washington County District Assistant Superintendent Marshall Topham. "Trying to help suggested that they might want to raffle a gun. That’s what they did."

St. George resident Dorothy Engelman says she was shocked to find a gun alongside the cupcakes.

"To me those two things just do not go together," says Engelman. "I don't care how much money an organization affiliated with a school needs, the way to do it is not by raffling off guns."

Engelman, along with several other parents, contacted the school district about the raffle. Topham says the district has a strict policy against raffles of any kind.

"The advisor became aware and immediately stopped it because raffles are inappropriate," says Topham. "We also realize the insensitivity of raffling a gun, and it's unfortunate that that happened."

Topham says it appears to be an honest mistake by a well-intentioned parent, so there won't be any kind of disciplinary action. The rugby club is contacting the community to refund raffle tickets.

The public outcry has sparked a firestorm battle of second amendment rights. Engelman says she’s received personal attacks.

"I'm not being hateful when I do this," says Engelman. "The girls deserve all the congratulations They need the support. I'm hoping that maybe this brings them more money than they would have gotten with the raffle."

The Lady Warriors head to nationals in May.