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School stops gun raffle for St. George girls' rugby team

By David Self Newlin | Posted - May 2nd, 2013 @ 5:35pm


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ST. GEORGE — The Snow Canyon High School Lady Warriors want to go to Wisconsin. There's a national rugby competition there this year that they hope to compete in, maybe even win.

To make enough money to hit the road, they held a fundraiser by selling baked goods and donated items in a rummage sale. They also did something more unconventional: They tried to raffle off two guns.

Sponsored by a local gun shop, those who organized the fundraiser sold tickets for the chance to win a 12-gauge shotgun or a rifle of their choice, similar to a raffle held by the Uintah Ute hockey team almost a month before. Like the Utes, the Lady Warriors are a club team, meaning they are affiliated with the school but don't get the financial backing to pay for big trips to national competitions.

But like the Utes, raffling off guns for a school-affiliated organization has caused some concern. St. George local Dorothy Engelman drove past the fundraiser last week and decided to check it out. What she saw "shocked" her.

"When I got there, two guns were lying on a table next to the roll of raffle tickets, next to the table that had the cookies and the cupcakes and those kinds of things out for the bake sale," Engelman said.

She said she fully supports the right to bear arms and the Second Amendment, but she didn't think it was appropriate to raffle off the guns for an organization related to a high school, especially after two gun-related student suicides in Washington County over the last six weeks.

Engelman contacted the school officials and media organizations, who quickly put an end to the raffle. Any kind of raffle would not have been approved as raffles are against district rules for fundraisers, according to district officials.

The district had no idea that the raffle was going on at all. The volunteer coach, Cathy Hasfurther, told <A href=http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2013/04/29/kessler-engelman-protests-win-a-rifle-drawing-by-snow-canyon-high-school-rugby-club/" target=_blank>StGeorgeUtah.com Monday that the fundraiser was "100-percent parent organized." Hasfurther said Thursday that she could not comment on the matter any further.

Principal Warren Brooks told the news site that while "We want to be supportive of all students, this just put a negative light on things."

Assistant Superintendant for Secondary Schools Marshall Topham, however, stressed that the parent's didn't know about the rule banning raffles.

"The parents weren't aware they were in violation of the law. It wasn't with any malice or evil intent," he told the <A href=http://www.thespectrum.com/article/20130430/NEWS01/304300015/ target=_blank">St. George Spectrum.

Engelman has said that the response from the community has been mixed and that she has been personally attacked for speaking up.

"When I look at the comments that were left online in both of those places, we're telling our kids not to bully, and yet the response I got towards myself were very bullying," she said.

According to Engleman, she was even called by a local firearms instructor who said he purposefully posted her personal information, including address and phone number, on the Internet in the hopes that people would harass her.

"I hope you are absolutely bombarded by hate mail," the voicemail said, as heard in a recording Engelman's husband posted to YouTube.

For her part, Engelman said she was just doing what she thought was right.

"A private organization can do whatever they want, they can have the guns out, I don't care. But a public school should not be raising money by raffling off guns," she said

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