After more than 60 people turned out to protest the raffling off an AR-15 rifle and a .30-gauge shotgun by the Kent Volunteer Fire Department for its 2018 fundraiser, the department has announced that it has changed its plans.
The decision came following a meeting Monday of the Kent Fire District Board of Commissioners where the department was asked to suspend the raffle in the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.
"In light of the recent tragedies that have occurred, the Kent Volunteer Fire Department has made the decision to change the prizes of their Annual Fundraising Raffle," wrote the department on Facebook. "The Firearms Raffle will consist of an $800 gift certificate to go towards winner's choice, and the second place prize will be a $500 gift certificate to go towards winner's choice."
"We thank you for everyone's continued support and our hearts and prayers are with those affected in Parkland, Florida," they added.
Sales for the $20 raffle tickets had been going well, and the department hoped to make a good deal of money to help fund the department and its events.
But in the face of the mass killing of 17 students and teachers at Parkland High School, the Board of Commissioners told the fire department they didn't think it was a good time to hold such a raffle.
There were supporters on both sides, but perhaps most upset was Fire Chief Justin Bryne who criticized those against the sale for not coming to fundraising events and reminded those present that firefighters go out at 3 a.m. to keep residents safe, reported lohud.com.
“Don’t come down here and tell us we are doing it wrong,” he said during the meeting. “It makes you all look bad. I see no reason to stop this raffle.”
But by Tuesday afternoon, department President Gladys Bolbrock said: "We’ve heard the community and would like to meet them halfway."
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