NEW RICHMOND, Ohio (CBS Local) — An Ohio mother says she was upset when her 7-year-old daughter was recently asked to sell raffle tickets for a semi-automatic gun for her cheer squad.
Heather Chilton was excited when her daughter, Nevaeh Chilton, joined the Junior Lions Cheer Team in New Richmond this year. But at the end of July, the cheerleaders learned they would spend their August selling raffle tickets for five gift baskets and an AM-15 optic ready rifle.
“This is absurd, you’re having elementary kids sell your AR-15. Why?” Chilton told WXIX. “I highly doubt that something would happen with the gun, but say it did. Say one of the kids in the high school got a hold of it — got the AR-15 or AM-15 and shot up a school with it, and I’m the one that sold the raffle ticket to his dad?”
Each girl was expected to sell five $10 tickets for each prize to help raise money for the football and cheer programs.
Although families could opt to only sell tickets for the gift basket, Chilton said she felt uncomfortable having young cheerleaders even tangentially involved in an event that would raffle off a semi-automatic weapon to a random winner.
An Ohio mother is fighting for change after she says her 7-year-old daughter was asked to sell raffle tickets for a semi-automatic gun for her cheer squad. https://t.co/w7JnjlCCaz
— WYMT (@WYMT) August 21, 2019
“I can’t see them selling some type of semi-automatic rifle when we have all these mass shootings going on, going door to door,” she said.
Chilton reached out to Robert Wooten, president of New Richmond Junior Lions Football Inc. He said the nonprofit organization has been selling raffle tickets for a rifle for the past four years.
“They are not required to participate in the gun raffle,” Wooten said. “We recommend it just because the money we receive is obviously needed for us to continue to provide sports for our community.”
Wooten said the organization was forced to spend $4,000 last year for insurance and equipment.
Wooten emphasized the raffle winner would have to pass a background check before receiving the gun. But Chilton, a gun owner herself, said that’s not the point.
“The point is that our little girls should have nothing to do with it, period,” Chilton told WCPO. “They should be cheerleaders.”
The raffle is scheduled to take place on Sept. 3.