GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A booster group for a high school on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast is raising money for a band trip with what a school safety group calls a “highly inappropriate” raffle of guns and ammunition.
The fundraiser — called “30 guns in 30 days” — is holding daily drawings for shotguns, handguns, rifles, ammunition, a bow and even a flamethrower. The $100 tickets have sold out and will help send the West Harrison High School band to Orlando, Florida, according to the fundraiser’s Facebook page. Drawings began June 6.
The fundraiser comes after several recent mass shootings across the U.S., including the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting that left 19 children and two adults dead.
“It’s highly inappropriate,” said Tori Bishop, a former Harrison County School District parent and an administrator for a Facebook group called Harrison County Parents for a Safer Return to School. The group has more than 1,500 members.
“In light of the recent school shooting, and the mass shootings we’ve been having going on in this country … it is in extremely poor taste. I am disappointed in the district,” Bishop said.
Harrison County Schools Superintendent Mitchell King said the fundraiser was not affiliated with the school.
The Facebook page for the raffle at first included a profile image of the West Harrison logo but has since been changed.
Janean Murphy holds the drawings live on Facebook, The Sun Herald reported.
Murphy, one of the raffle organizers, felt there was “nothing” to talk about and declined an interview after issuing a statement.
“It’s a raffle put together by group of likeminded people to raise money for the band kids to compete in Bands of America,” she said.
The raffle is organized by the band’s booster club and is sponsored by High Caliber Guns, a gun shop in Long Beach.
Gun raffles are not new to Mississippi and are frequently used as fundraisers for various initiatives across the state. And they are legal. West Harrison High band booster raffle winners are required to pass a background check conducted by High Caliber Guns.
“I understand that rifles are commonly raffled in this area but there are semi automatics and handguns on this list as well,” said former state Rep. Sonya Williams Barnes, who now works for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “After the tragedy in Uvalde, it seems to me that the organizers should have used better judgment by shutting the raffle down. Even if for no other reason but for respect to those 19 babies and 2 teachers whose lives were lost.”