When the Cedar Cliff High School football boosters group launched a fund-raising raffle recently, it set off feverish reaction in the Camp Hill region of Pennsylvania’s Cumberland County that is getting national attention.
Why the hubbub? Because five of the ten prizes are firearms including three handguns, a shotgun and a rifle, according to Penn.live and the Patriot News in Harrisburg. The report said the raffle was announced during National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 5-12), to which Daina Thompson, a mental health professional and parent of two children in the school district observed, was “in such poor taste.”
Thompson’s criticism was sharp-edged.
“I cannot support something that is potentially putting guns in more homes of the teenagers I see, knowing the stats,” Thompson said, according to the Penn.live story. “They clearly didn’t consult a mental health professional in this.”
Apparently someone did consult a gun aficionado, however. The raffle guns were identified as a 9mm Gen 5 Glock 19, a 9mm Springfield Hellcat, a 9mm Smith & Wesson 2.0 Pro Series, a 12-gauge semi-auto Radical MKX-3 shotgun and a bolt-action Savage Axis II Overwatch rifle in .30-06 Springfield.
The fund raiser is obviously touched some raw nerves. Penn.live quoted a message that the district requested be added to a flyer advertising the raffle. That message reads:
“The content and opinions expressed here are those of the Cedar Cliff Football Boosters and are not the views of the West Shore School District, its Board, or its employees. The distribution of information, display of material, or organization events do not constitute the District’s endorsement of any such product, service, organization, company, information provider, or content.”
The story has reached all the way to Seattle, where KIRO News, the local CBS affiliate, picked it up. They noted raffle tickets were distributed to the football players Sept. 9, and raffle winners will be announced Oct. 29. In the event a winner doesn’t want to accept a firearm, they can opt for a $200 cash prize.
Thompson, the mental health pro, told the newspaper, “I’m not trying to start a war over the Second Amendment. I’m not opposed of people getting weapons through their own means, but how can this be appropriate in a school environment?”
She reportedly has “hunters and military members in her family.” She claims her concern is about whether a raffle involving firearms that is related to a school sports program. She also told the newspaper she has heard from other parents who share her concerns.
The boosters club has reportedly exchanged email with Thompson, telling her, “Agreed, it is unbearable to think that any item can be used as a weapon to inflict harm to one’s self or others, regardless of the source…(but) to link the intent of the raffle and a proposed outcome is unfair and disingenuous.”