As of Wednesday, March 7, 2018
DALLAS — Residents of Dallas asked the Dallas City Council to prevent the raffle of an AR-15 by the Lady Dragons Fastpitch Club, while others spoke in support of the club and raffle at the council’s meeting Monday night.
On Jan. 30, the club started a raffle of a donated AR-15 rifle to help raise money to support the softball club. The raffle has been the topic of debate and protest since the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Anticipating the topic, Mayor Brian Dalton read a prepared statement before the public comment portion of the meeting, saying the city didn’t have authority to regulate the raffle.
“Please note that this raffle has been privately organized and run with no involvement of the city of Dallas staff or city council as a body,” Dalton said. “It has not been a topic of action or debate by the council. There is no action on it pending or in a planning stage. This raffle is being run privately here in our community, not by the city, or with any endorsement of the city.”
He said raffles are regulated by state law, not by city code.
Some of the comments were directed at Council President Micky Garus, who also serves on Lady Dragons board and is a coach for the program.
Carol Christ, who owns a business in Dallas, but lives just outside the city limits, presented a request from a group called Peace in Polk for action regarding the raffle.
“We count on elected officials and others in authority to make careful decisions,” she read from a prepared statement. “We expect elected officials to look for the common good and weigh the needs of the many against the interest of the few.”
On behalf of Peace in Polk, Christ asked the council to encourage the club’s board to offer something else in place of the AR-15 for the raffle, to act to prevent similar raffles from happening in the city, and to develop a code of conduct for office holders.
Rev. Fred Heard, of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Dallas, also spoke against the raffle. He is one of five church leaders to sign a letter sent to the council and Dallas School Board in opposition of the fundraiser. The Lady Dragons is not a district program, but it uses Dallas High School’s logo and facilities for games and practice.
“I’m here because of concern that many of our members have expressed,” Heard said. “I think to give a weapon of any kind that kills people is really inappropriate in a school-type raffle. I think that is the most important thing that we need to think about.”
Darren and Lindsey Buchholz spoke in favor of the raffle and in support of the club, which their daughter plays for. Lindsey Buchholz noted that the winner of the raffle will not receive the AR-15 until he or she passes a background check.
“Everyone has their right to disagree with guns or agree with guns, and we have to respect those rights whether we agree with them or not, but the bottom line is no laws were broken,” Darren Buchholz said. “All the rules were followed. We have the right to do what we are doing, just as the opposition has the right to come and protest against that.”
Garus apologized that the concerns and discussion came before the council, saying the Lady Dragons tried to make it clear it is not a city- or school district-affiliated program. He said the girls and parents involved in the club have experienced negative attention, even death threats, in the past weeks.
He added that the raffle was a success.
“The other half that you didn’t get to hear tonight is that the raffle exceeded all expectations and then some, and it was our community members that supported those girls,” Garus said.