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Parents Outraged Over Auction of Assault Weapon to Fund High School Graduation

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Some parents of students at Astronaut High School in Titusville, Florida, reacted by expressing support—while others expressed outrage—when they learned an assault rifle would be raffled to raise money for an end-of-year celebration for graduating students.

“Just what are we teaching our kids? That guns are OK? Absolutely are NOT OK. This is why people are dying like flies so easily,” Kiyah Edwards wrote on a Titusville news Facebook page, WKMG-TV in Orlando reported.

This is real; Astronaut High School in Titusville FL is raffling off an assault rifle. A friend with a child in that school sent this. (Near Kennedy Space Center, hence the name.) pic.twitter.com/G9UgyvEyEP

— easyalias (@easyalias) March 26, 2021

Parents discovered flyers for the ArmaLite-style assault rifle, which is to be sold in the Project Graduation raffle, an event intended to raise money for the senior class’ post-graduation party, an adult-supervised event that is drug- and alcohol-free.

Weapons for sale hang on the wall at WEX Gunworks in Delray Beach, Florida, on March 24. President Joe Biden has called on lawmakers to immediately pass legislation to help curb gun violence.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Some parents raised concern that auctioning off a military-level weapon at a school event would be inappropriate, given recent mass shootings in schools. Other parents argued on social media that the item was a symbol of Second Amendment rights in action, according to WKMG.

“How weak have we become? When I was in school we had a gun rack with a gun in it in my truck at school and JROTC used live ammo in the rifle range,” said Paul Vaccaro, referring to the Army’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.

Brevard Public Schools spokesperson Russell Bruhn told The Liberty Buzz that the names of Astronaut High School and BPS are not permitted for use in promoting Project Graduation’s fundraiser because the nonprofit is not officially affiliated with the school or the district.

“We were made aware that Project Graduation has a raffle where the prize is a gun,” Bruhn told The Liberty Buzz. “We understand that this is a sensitive subject, and we want to remind our community that this raffle is not being run through Astronaut High or Brevard Public Schools.”

Neither the school nor the district receives money or benefits from Project Graduation, Bruhn added, and BPS officials informed the fundraiser’s organizers not to use the school’s name in their promotions.

“We don’t want our school name associated with the raffle,” Bruhn said to WKMG. “We would be doing this even if there were no gun, but we’re also a no-gun zone, of course.”

It’s legal to raffle a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In the case of a rifle, the licensed owner of the firearm may transfer the rifle to the raffle winner as long as the recipient of the prize undergoes a standard background check and completes ATF paperwork.

The news of the auction comes after gun control and particularly assault weapons have become part of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda. Recent mass shootings in the Atlanta area and Boulder, Colorado, have compelled activists to pressure Biden for more regulation of military-grade rifles, while gun rights supporters want protection for what they consider a constitutional right to bear arms.

Astronaut High School nearly avoided a school shooting in 2018 when two students were arrested after reportedly conspiring to harm fellow students, according to WKMG.

Law enforcement officers found an arsenal of weapons including rifles, axes, knives, gas masks and bulletproof vests in one of the student’s bedrooms. School officials nearly missed the plot, but police received a tip from a teacher’s spouse and averted what could have been a mass shooting like the one in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

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