Dallas, Ore.—a small town 70 miles south of Portland—is divided over the raffle item being touted by their local youth softball team: an AR-15 rifle.
Micky Garus, Dallas City Council's president and a board member for Lady Dragons Fastpitch—a club softball team that offers programs for 10 through 16-year-olds—marketed the rifle on the team's Facebook page.
"FIREARM RAFFLE," the post allegedly read, "Ar15 223/5.56 Rifle w/ AccuShot EZ Tap Scope. SRP $849. Must be 21 and pass firearms background check."
The photo accompanying the post showed a softball and mitt displayed next to the rifle.
Last October, the entire Dallas school district was put on lockdown status after a former student made threats about "shooting up the school."
But it's more recent events that have made the raffle a lightning rod.
On February 14, Nikolas Cruz took an Uber to Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., carrying an AR-15 rifle in one bag, and loaded magazines in another.
A little after two that afternoon, the 19-year-old got out and started shooting, taking 17 lives and marking one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.
That's the context in which Dallas residents reportedly went to school administrators asking for the raffle to be shut down. But because Lady Dragons is a club team, and not a school team, the district is unable to take action.
Despite pushback, the Lady Dragons wrote in a Facebook page last Saturday, the team is going ahead with the AR-15.
"We strive to offer a low-cost tournament option to the Dallas community," the post reads. "To achieve this, we depend heavily on fundraising and community sponsorships."
When approached with the rifle from a private donor, the team's board unanimously agreed to put it on auction.
"While we sympathize with current events and the climate surrounding them," the post continues, "this is a legal, well-regulated raffle, with tickets being sold to willing and able purchasers. The winner of the raffle will have to pass all necessary background checks, the same as would be required of them to purchase the rifle. Our raffle began on January 30, 2018 prior to the unfortunate event in Florida."
The fundraiser might seem bizarre, but it isn't the first time an Oregon softball team has raffled off a gun in the wake of a national tragedy.
In July 2016, less than a month after the shooting at the Orlando nightclub Pulse, a Portland softball team auctioned an AR-15 to raise money to compete in a tournament in California. As fate (or divine intervention) would have it, a reverend from Lake Oswego ended up winning the gun, and vowed to turn it into a non-lethal art piece.