Halifax Woman Upset At School Raffling Off Guns
Posted October 13, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
HALIFAX — When you buy a raffle ticket from a school, you would expect the prize to be something like electronic equipment, a gift certificate or a trip. At one Halifax County school, the prizes are guns.
It might seem odd to some people that a school would raffle off guns, but students and faculty at Hobgood Academy say the weapons are a part of their heritage and have nothing to do with violence.
The idea of a school raffling off three shotguns and two hunting rifles just does not sit well with Sonya Alexander. She says Hobgood Academy could pick a more appropriate prize.
"We wouldn't allow our children to sell a poisonous snake. We wouldn't let our children to sell pot. We wouldn't allow our children to sell things that would harm them in any way. A gun does harm," said Alexander.
Alexander's niece and nephew attend the kindergarten through twelfth grade campus. She is asking the private school to give away something else instead, and she is the only one who has called to complain.
Supporters say hunting rifles and shotguns are part of the local culture. With the help of some parents, high school students in the Future Farmers of American class picked the prize. Headmaster John Hardison approved it.
"There will be background checks, and we are not going to just turn a gun over to a minor. If someone younger wins it, then we will make sure the gun is given to the parent," said Hardison.
The money will go to hands-on classes that supporters say have given the school its near perfect graduation rate.
Many students say their parents own guns and have taught them how to handle them. They also have strict rules about how they are used.
"Hunting is a fun sport. Going out their and sitting in the cold and killing a deer is fun. If you use a shotgun the wrong way, it's not right," said student Dana Boyd.
The school says this is not the first time they have done this. However, they have never had a problem with it before.
Alexander says she has offered to give the school another prize if they will substitute it for the five guns.
The school says it will probably not do that because the students are the ones who picked out the prize.
U.S. citizens legally own more than 230 million firearms. A recent survey showed 60 percent of guns are used for hunting and recreation, and 40 percent are handguns used mainly for protection.
Handguns, not shotguns or rifles, are involved in almost three-quarters of all shootings involving children.