TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Following the Twin Falls School District cancellation of a fundraiser gun raffle for the Canyon Ridge High School baseball team, a Buhl-based Patriot Defense is launching a new gun raffle where proceeds will go to the baseball team.
The original gun raffle fundraiser for the Canyon Ridge High School baseball team was organized by the head coach and team booster club president in the early summer. The coach did not wish to comment on the matter and referred KMVT to school officials. The Twin Falls School District said the reasoning behind canceling the gun raffle was because the coach did not go through proper channels or inform the school activities director of the fundraiser.
"We do ask that all coaches notify their activities director of all fundraising taking place and that unfortunately just didn't happen in this case, and so we've asked that the students return the money," Twin Falls School District Public Relations Director Eva Craner said.
Craner also said the timing was factor in canceling the fundraiser, following a pair of mass shootings nationally that left 31 people dead last weekend.
“I know everyone is acting emotional right now because of what happened,” said founder and sole employee of Patriot Defense, Todd Eccles. "The gun is not the problem; it’s the person who pulled the trigger.”
"Growing up in school around here, you know, Idaho has a long history of sports team raffling off firearms," Eccles said. "You know, a raffle, a shotgun, or whatever it may to earn money for their team."
Eccles said that following the news of the school district's decision to cancel the gun raffle, he chatted via Facebook Messenger with a mother of player on the baseball team who did not want him to release her name.
"This mom got a hold of me and she's so glad to hear from me," Eccles said. "She didn't want to let this go and said it was a shame that these kids went through all this hard work to sell these raffle tickets and try to earn money for their baseball team and she's really upset by it. But she's really happy somebody was willing to step in and kind of move forward with and consider what we consider a wrong a right again."
As for the second raffle Eccles has organized, he says the winner will not just be handed a rifle, instead they're going to get a gift card from D&B Supply in the amount of a riffle.
"And if they don't want a rifle they can use the gift card on something else," Eccles said.
Winners will still have to go through a background check.
Eccles disagrees with the school district's decision, but sees why they did it. However, he's concerned it could be used as precedent by other school district's to cancel similar events.
“I’m going to have a check. I’m going to make it out to the Canyon Ridge baseball team and they’re either going to take it or they’re not,” Eccles said. “If they don’t I’ll find another school that will.”