A “Wild Game” charity dinner to raise money for a high school football team in western Oakland County, Mich., has been cancelled after community backlash over a raffle whose prizes included an AR-15 rifle — the same semi-automatic weapon that was used to kill 17 people at a Florida school this past week.
“Due to the recent tragic events earlier this week, the South Lyon Football Booster Organization has decided to cancel their second annual Wild Game Dinner. The sensitivity of the issue coupled with the untimely tragedy has led to the decision,” a statement posted on the team’s website said.
The statement, written by the South Lyon Football Boosters, explained that the area has “an abundance of hunters and sportsmen,” the event was attempting to take these interests into account.
“At no point did the Booster club intend to offend those sensitive to the topic of firearms. The event was meant to generate funding for the football program by taking advantage of the vast amount of sportsmen in the area,” the post continues, noting that the event was in no way associated with the school district or high school.
An invitation to the March event, which stated that is was the second of its kind, advertised that participants could take part in “gun raffles.” It also highlighted that there would be AR-15s — the semi-automatic, civilian version of the military’s M-16 — there.
This is the weapon 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz used on Wednesday when he killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The weapon was also used to kill 59 people at a Las Vegas music festival in October, 26 people at First Baptist Church in rural Sutherland Springs in November, 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in 2016, and 26 people — mostly young school children — at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., in 2012.
The firearms industry’s trade association, The National Shooting Sports Foundation, has lobbied to have the AR rifles referred to as “modern sporting rifles” to get away from the more politically loaded label “assault rife.” The NRA says AR-15s are “perfect for varmints and predator hunting, and with the proper ammunition can make a great deer rifle.” The organization also calls the AR-15 the “most popular rifle in America” and estimates Americans own more than 8 million of them.
AR-15 rifles are often sold with a 30-round magazine. In Michigan, however, the state’s Department of Natural Resources’ website says it’s illegal to “hunt with a semi-automatic shotgun or semi-automatic rifle that can hold more than six shells in the barrel and magazine combined unless it is a .22 caliber or smaller rimfire.”
The Booster Club in South Lyon had planned to showcase the AR-15 at the March 1 event.
“No minors or students were to be in attendance. In addition, firearms would not be distributed at the event. A winning raffle ticket would be issued to the winner which would be presented a the licensed business. The appropriate paperwork and background checks would be performed in accordance to state and federal laws,” the cancellation statement explained, adding that the intention of the event was not to be “insensitive or offend.”
“As parents ourselves, our organization works for the betterment of children and our hearts go out to the families of Parkland, Florida,” the statement states in conclusion.
While the Booster Club has made the decision to cancel the event due to pushback post-Florida, not all are pleased.
“This is America and that’s one of our rights and we should be allowed them rights, I’m a Veteran, I fought for those rights and I strongly believe that we should all be able to live with those rights that is what makes America great,” Jonathan Brookman of Oak Park, who disagreed with the cancellation told Fox 2 Detroit.
“We should be responsible with them but I don’t think our rights should be controlled by government,” he said.