Huffpost Crime

North Dakota Youth Hockey League Raffles Off Guns To Raise $90,000

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Cal Helgeson of the West Fargo Hockey Association holds the list of weapons that will go to raffle winners.
Cal Helgeson of the West Fargo Hockey Association holds the list of weapons that will go to raffle winners.

A North Dakota youth hockey league with players as young as 4 years old is raffling off guns to raise money.

The West Fargo Hockey Association is offering 200 firearms, some of which have been scarce in the area, KVLY/Valley News Live reported.

Association President Cal Helgeson told KVLY the funds would help league teams get the time they need inside ice rinks this season.

"With our 20 percent increase in association members this year, we have a big need for ice," Helgeson said, per KVLY.

Gun raffles are not uncommon in North Dakota. The Bismarck Hockey Boosters recently sold tickets for one.

But now that a national debate rages over gun control in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. in December, the West Fargo fundraiser is "going to raise eyebrows," West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern told The Huffington Post on Tuesday.

"The timing is a little awkward," he said. "I think that's a fair statement to say, given the discussion going on around the country."

Mattern said the city approved the raffle in an admitted rubber-stamp but does not have jurisdiction over the league.

Raffle organizer Mike Prochnow explained to radio station KFGO in Fargo, N.D., that the raffle was planned back in August, well before the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Tickets are selling well so far, the station wrote, adding that three of the prizes are Rock River AR-15 assault weapons. The rifles are similar to the Bushmaster AR-15 used in the Sandy Hook attack that killed 20 children, according to Bloomberg.

HuffPost left messages with league official Helgeson requesting comment but did not immediately hear back.

Tickets are $40, and the drawing is scheduled for March 15 at a banquet, according to the West Fargo Hockey Association's website. A local gun dealer, Fargo Scheels All Sports, is handling the transactions.

Youth hockey leagues in Minnesota and Wisconsin also conducted gun raffles last year before Newtown.