Interest in rifle raffle spreads from Alaska to Florida

Interest in rifle raffle spreads from Alaska to Florida

ATWOOD — Officially, the raffle of a semiautomatic rifle to benefit youth baseball in the Atwood-Hammond area hasn't even begun.

Unofficially, it's already raised a couple thousand dollars.

Four times a year, the Atwood Armory, a gun shop in Douglas County, raffles off an AR-15 to benefit a local charity. Currently it's raising money for the Camden Foundation, a childhood cancer support group based in Ivesdale. More than $9,000 has been raised and that fundraiser continues until March 30.

Meanwhile, the business already has started to sell $20 raffle tickets for its April-June fundraiser for youth baseball in Atwood and Hammond. Nearly $3,000 in tickets have been sold at the store.

"The (baseball) one wasn't supposed to start until April 1st, but somehow someone got a hold of it with the media and it's been crazy ever since," said Charidy Butcher, who owns the business in rural Atwood with her husband, Bryan. "They purchase the raffle tickets from us, not the kids. A lot of people are saying, 'How can you have kids selling raffle tickets for a gun?' The kids have nothing to do with it. We're just raising money for them."

The prize being raffled includes the firearm and ammunition and is valued at more than $2,000, she said.

"We donate a portion of it. What we do is offer it to them at our cost and then we kick in $500 and some other stuff that goes with it, so they end up paying a small portion for it," Butcher said.

Youth baseball commissioner Steven McClain said he has been surprised by the media interest and subsequent raffle sales to people across the country.

"Honestly, all we had planned was putting it in the local paper, print some fliers like we normally do, and that's about it," McClain said.

"Now we're trying to figure out how to take money from people out of state," he added of calls that have come from "Alaska, Texas, Florida. You name a state and we're probably gotten interest from there."

Butcher has twin 5-year-old boys who play T-ball in the program.

"We need everything. We need new equipment, balls, helmets, that kind of thing. Our ball diamonds are in sad shape and we don't have enough of them," she said. "Last year my kids didn't even get diamond space. We had to play in the grass in an area with trees in it."

This year's youth baseball fundraiser already is more successful than last year's, she said.

"They raffled off half a hog and some other things and ended up clearing $10," she said. "This already has surpassed anyone's expectations. It was meant to be a local fundraiser like all our other raffles. We never dreamed it would go national as it has."

The youth baseball raffle is the sixth since the shop opened in 2011, she said. Last year in four separate fundraisers, the shop raised about $7,000.

"So we've already surpassed that with the Camden Foundation," she said.

Those wishing to purchase tickets can go to the gun shop, a mile north of Atwood and a quarter mile east on County Road 1175 North, or they can send a check.

"If they can't make it to the shop, they can send a check for the number of raffle tickets they'd want and make the checks out to the Atwood Armory," Butcher said. "I will send them their raffle tickets in the mail."

She said she's heard criticism of the raffle, but not from any local residents.

"No matter what you do, you're going to hear negative things. You could be doing the greatest thing in the world, and people will find fault with it. But all of the people around here, I have not heard one negative comment. Everyone has been supportive," she said. "Whoever wins, everything will be done legally. They'll have to go through the background check, just as if they were walking in off the street and purchasing it."

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rsp wrote on March 16, 2013 at 8:03 am

Most successful fundraisers have businesses donate the raffle items, not purchase them as a cost of the event. Granted, this gun seller would not be nearly as involved in raising funds if they had to cover the cost of the items. But haven't the charities become in effect "gun sellers" by proxy, by allowing guns to effectively be sold in their names by raffle? It's a shame nobody else seems to be stepping up and getting the whole community involved. 

Atwood Armory wrote on March 16, 2013 at 10:03 am

Sir you have no idea what you're talking about, and your facts are inaccurate. We at the Atwood Armory are gaining NOTHING by this raffle. It would take too long to respond to your post (which is far from the truth), and if you'd like to further discuss this in person feel free to contact the Atwood Armory @ 217-578-2767. Thanks again...

rsp wrote on March 16, 2013 at 11:03 am

I didn't suggest you were profitting from it, just not donating the guns and ammo. There are a lot of fundraisers that use raffles with prizes. The idea that there has to be one big expensive, prize in order to raise funds is a fallacy. By the time expenses are paid very little is usually raised. Whatever happened to chili suppers and candy sales, gift baskets, etc. that show the community really cares about the kids and investing in their future? The kids don't have an adequate place to play, and all the equipment needs replaced. Are you the only one trying?

C in Champaign wrote on March 18, 2013 at 5:03 am

Actually, having been involved in a number of charity events, I can tell you that it is not uncommon for charities to pay a part or all of the cost of items being raffled. This is especially true when an item is unique, and/or expensive. Many times the items are substantially discounted, or below cost, but not everything you see in a charity raffle, like celebrity speakers, dinners, advertising, etc... comes to the charity for free. On some occasions, the charity will have an "angel" who will underwrite the cost of an item for them, but this is not always the case.

Also, in this case it is clear that the gun seller is covering at least $500 of the cost of the prize, and is giving up the profit that could be made selling the item instead of donating it. For those unaware, items like this are actually selling at or above list price, so this is not an insubstantial amount, likely several hundred dollars or more.

Joe American wrote on March 16, 2013 at 9:03 am

"A lot of people are saying, 'How can you have kids selling raffle tickets for a gun?' "

Really?  That's the best they got?  Whose business is it other than those involved?  And if the pacifist parents of a handful of kids (doubtful, this isn't the Peoples Republic of Urbana we're talking about here) don't want them selling them, then they don't have to involve them.

If it's not immoral, illegal or unethical, then mind your own.

Atwood Armory wrote on March 16, 2013 at 10:03 am

Just for FYI, the children are NOT selling the raffle tickets...period! The only people allowed to sell the tickets is the Atwood Armory, and the Atwood - Hammond Little League Commissioners. All state, and federal laws are observed and used concerning this raffle, as if it was being purchased by an individual. I just wanted to pass that along.

Thanks again,

The Atwood Armory


Sid Saltfork wrote on March 16, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Atwood Armory;  Thank you for explaining things regarding the raffle.  I understand your assistance to your community's young people.  Your doing nothing illegal.  The young people are not selling the raffle tickets.  It is unfortunate that people on both sides of the gun regulation controversy are using your raffle to forward their agendas.  I respect your standing up to answer questions regardless of my personal view on gun regulations.

Joe American wrote on March 16, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Thank you.  I realized that, but was merely commenting on the ridiculousness of those who are associating the two.  Good luck to you on the raffle, and thanks for doing it for the Little Leaguers!

I hadn't even heard of your store but I look forward to stopping by in the coming months.

Trapper wrote on March 16, 2013 at 11:03 am

Im with the Armory with this. And by the way GOOD for you. Your help is very much welcomed. I would say to all of the overly concerned folks. If you truly don't like this type of fundraiser then STEP UP! Write a check! If these teams had the funding we need from folks like you then we would not even be discussing this would we? So SHUT UP or PUT UP. Help or leave them ALONE.

fortherecord wrote on March 16, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Really looking forward to doing business with the Atwood Armory in the future. You guys should be proud. Thanks!

Bulldogmojo wrote on March 16, 2013 at 2:03 pm

What's one more high powered killing machine in circulation more or less? I'm sure it could never get in the wrongs hands and be used in a commision of a crime much less a spree killing.

This idea could really catch on. Maybe the people in Newtown could have a raffle for an AR15 to pay for remodeling costs at the Sandy Hook school. Those things really tear up the drywall.

Whatever happened to a bakesale?

Joe American wrote on March 16, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I agree.  The buyer should have to keep the prize under lock and chain 24/7 because we all know how these "killing machines" sneak out on their own and wreak carnage.

The killing machine is the person, not the inanimate object.  Educate yourself.  We don't need more low-information voters.

Bulldogmojo wrote on March 16, 2013 at 6:03 pm

They do certainly amplify the level of "Carnage" as you put it.

I just thought the irony was clear in that the Sandy Hook school won't need to have a fund raiser themselves for their first grade t-ball team because they were slaughtered by a deranged person with access to a legally owned AR-15 that was unsecured and they are all dead now. I'll bet they would have liked to have played t-ball too.

but maybe it's just me who saw the ugly irony to it...

Joe American wrote on March 16, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Don't use "access" as though he had permission to use someone elses property.  With your logic, we all have "access" to anyone elses private property, the only thing varying being the extent to which we'll go to get it.  He STOLE them.  They were NOT his guns and no matter how badly you want to point the finger at people who did not commit the crime, she paid the ultimate price for her carelessness in not keeping it under lock and key.  So go ahead and point your finger all you want - there's only one person to blame.  Not his mom.  Not the gun.  Not the manufacturer.  Not the NRA.  Not your crazy uncle.  Only Adam Lanza, period.

Bulldogmojo wrote on March 16, 2013 at 9:03 pm

He lived in the same house and his mother knew he was mentally ill yet she was completely in compliance with the law. The NRA fought all the way to the supreme court for no restrictions on safety devices and trigger locks in the home. Well now they seem not to be cognizent of that little detail.

(Heller vs. District of Columbia)

"He filed this suit seeking, on Second Amendment grounds, to enjoin the city from enforcing the bar on handgun registration, the licensing requirement insofar as it prohibits carrying an unlicensed firearm in the home, and the trigger-lock requirement insofar as it prohibits the use of functional firearms in the home." 


C in Champaign wrote on March 18, 2013 at 6:03 am

I don't see anyone, or any rules that stop a person who is against ownership of this type of weapon from buying the tickets, winning the weapon, and turning it in to be destroyed. By purchasing tickets, you are not supporting the store, the NRA, or any pro-gun lobby, you are supporting youth baseball in a small town the desperately needs the help. Step up, and put your money where your mouth is. But make sure you have a FOID card first.

Bulldogmojo wrote on March 18, 2013 at 9:03 am

I donate my charity dollars to Doctors Without Borders. The parents of those kids should go find business sponsors for their teams like the rest of the world and not tell them "hey kids we got the money we need for our team by raffling off one of those guns used by that madman that killed all those kids your age in Newtown!" Yay!

You go take your moral indifference and waste your dollars on weapons of mass destruction.

sameeker wrote on March 19, 2013 at 2:03 pm

How about donating to doctors who want to help people in this country. Try getting dental services here without a bunch of cash to pay, even if you have insurance.

SaintClarence27 wrote on March 20, 2013 at 9:03 am

How about it's never a good idea to denigrate people for charity donations. While I have issues with certain charities - charities like Livestrong, which has suspect expenditures, huge administrative costs, etc. - I was told once, and I've tried to follow it, that it's always a good idea to simply applaud any and all donations to charity, no matter how large or small.

Thinkin bout it wrote on March 22, 2013 at 11:03 am

Bakesales are evil according to the First Lady so please don't suggest this again. As for high powered killing machines are you referring to guns or cars. The cars go much faster than necessary and also get into the wrong hands and are used in the commission of crimes. If I donated a car would be whining like this. I doubt it. Carry on Atwood Armory, keep up the good work.

virtualAnonymity wrote on March 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Bake sales are outlawed. Too much hassle to label each item for nutritional content.


virtualAnonymity wrote on March 16, 2013 at 7:03 pm

The amplification I see has been in the media.  You don't need me to tell you which side is exploiting the carnage.

This raffle is a success because there are folks who can separate law abiding ownership and responsibility from activity that is not. 

These folks are voting with their dollars in order to get a message out.  Lots of folks are amping that message.

Still cannot find a store with ammo in stock.

Juxtaposition is a clever debate tactic.  Put two things together that seem connected but are not.

Like an AR raffle with condoning future mass murder.  I find no connection.  Its not irony. 

Its just a poor debate point. 



Bulldogmojo wrote on March 16, 2013 at 8:03 pm

"These folks are voting with their dollars in order to get a message out."  Really?

I thought a raffle was just gambling. It is just a bunch of gun hoarders who want to get two thousand dollars worth of weapons for twenty bucks. Millions of people play the lottery every day that doesn't mean those people are "voting with their dollars in order to get a message out". Talk about your misguided juxtapostions.  Give me a break.


illinifan1280 wrote on March 22, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I believe the idea is that people from Florida and Alaska who are "interested", are only interested in being a part of a media frenzy, and making a "statement" of their absolute Second Amendment rights.

There are tens of thousands of these raffles that happen nationwide. Flat screen TV prize? They don't care. Cash? Maybe a little, but they don't bother. Assault rifle that MAY (not likely, but may) become illegal in the near-future? They gotta have it. Just like when Hostess shut down, all of a sudden, everyone had to rush out and buy Twinkies.

C in Champaign wrote on March 18, 2013 at 9:03 am

At the end of the day, this is no different than any other charity raffle or auction. The fact of the matter is, that the better, or more desireable, the item you offer, the more money you will raise. A basket full of bath soaps is great,  but not a lot of people want to win it, so it doesn't raise much money. In this case, the prize is generating a lot of attention because it is very difficult to find one to purchase these days, so a lot of people are willing to take a $20 chance. 

They are offering an opportunity to win an item that is desireable to some, and legal, for now, to own. In real terms, it is no different than winning a cruise vacation, jewelry, a car, or anything else. The only difference is that the item is something that some people find offensive or objectionable. 

I say again, there is nobody to stop you from spending $20 on a ticket to support the kids. If you win the prize, you would be free to turn the weapon in to the police to be destroyed. (Better yet, sell chances to hit it with a sledge hammer for $1 a whack at an anti gun rally.) Bulldog, are you, or any of the other anti-gun crowd folks out there willing to spend $20 to support the kids and take a chance to get one more mass killing machine of the streets? 

Bulldogmojo wrote on March 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Better yet I'll send the money to a campaign fund for a legislator who will be willing to vote to get these extreme weapons off the streets so no one can turn up at their school with  that AR-15 and lay waste to those very kids with 150 rounds discharged in 3 minutes in their classroom.

Using your example here is a headline you will never see...

"Maniac Kills Classroom Full of Kids with Basket Full of Bath Soaps"

There are plenty of ways to fund raise without distributing more firearms to the kind of people who want guns just to protect their other guns.

I AM a gun owner. I am NOT a gun lover. I am NOT a 2nd amendment literalist and neither is the supreme court thankfully*. I do not think anyone needs these extreme weapons with high capacity clips that can facilitate a deranged person like James Holmes who owned his guns legally, to turn into a one man apocalypse virtually eliminating any tactical advantage the police may have to stop them. We need the second amendment but with rational boundaries. 

"Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms." Heller vs. DC

That's all i've got on this thread, I'll give you the last word.


C in Champaign wrote on March 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm


killerut wrote on March 21, 2013 at 10:03 pm

How can I purchase a couple of these raffle tickets?  

STM wrote on March 22, 2013 at 12:03 pm

To paraphrase:

No one ever went broke playing on the ignorance (or gullability) of the American people.