Brandon High School’s athletics booster club is raffling nearly 30 guns throughout the month of October as a part of its current fundraising campaign.
The Thirty for Thirty raffle is an annual event which gives away one prize each day in the month of October. This year, 28 of the 31 prizes are guns; raffle tickets cost $20. A raffle winner picks up their prize directly from Van’s Sporting Goods, a local outdoor store, and must meet “all qualifying criteria” according to the information posted on the Brandon Bulldog Athletics Facebook page.
Brandon High School Principal Bryan Marshall said that Van’s has been sponsoring the fundraiser for years and said this type of fundraiser is relatively common across Mississippi.
“There’s lots of gun giveaways in Mississippi that I know of,” Marshall said. “Most people do it the same way, nobody actually handles a weapon because you can’t just give a weapon away without it being registered, you’ve got to go through the process.”
Marshall also said that the school has no control over what the prizes are, and it is just a beneficiary of the money raised.
Rickey Neaves, executive director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association, said raffling guns specifically is not something that every school does, but sporting goods are something that draws a lot of interest when booster clubs are hosting raffles or auctions.
He added that guns may be a popular item to raffle because of the prevalence of hunting in some areas, but did caution schools regarding the optics.
Nationally, a federal report released earlier this year showed that school shootings in the 2020-21 school year hit an all-time high since the government began tracking the data. A Gallup poll from earlier this month also showed 44% of parents fear for their children’s safety when they are at school, the highest number since 2001.
“I would say that in today’s society, it’s probably not the best look a school district could give by raffling off guns,” Neaves said. “You always have to be cognizant of how the public is going to take that.”
Van’s Sporting Goods and the booster club both could not be reached for comment.