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Gun Raffle sparks national debate

The West Fargo Hockey Association's upcoming fundraiser has drawn the ire of the national media.

The association will be hosting its second annual gun raffle at the Speedway Event Center, and will offer 200 guns to ticket holders in the hopes of raising roughly $100,000 to fund the construction of an ice rink for players.

"The need for ice is higher than ever," said Mike Prochnow, the event's organizer. "We grew by 20 percent this year and expect to do the same for the next four or five years. Proceeds would go to build a new rink, preferrably a double rink." 

The raffle comes amid nationwide political debate regarding gun law reform after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., where after a 20-year-old opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., leaving 20 children and seven staff members dead.

One of the guns being raffled - the Rock River AR-15, which is designed for hunting coyotes - is similar to the weapon used in Newtown.

"We would like to stress that this gun list was set back in August," Prochnow said. "It is very poor timing, but there wasn’t much we could do after the tickets went on sale. We are targeting the outdoorsman with this event."

Only about 400 of the 4,000 total tickets remain. According to the hockey association’s website, the guns will be distributed by Scheels, who will follow "the normal procedure for gun purchases," which means raffle winners must meet state and federal requirements to receive or possess a firearm. They must also be 18 years old to win a rifle and 21 years old for a handgun. Winners can opt for in-store credit at Scheels instead, if they so choose.

"We are not just handing out guns," Prochnow said. "There will be background checks, and it is going to a good cause."

The raffle will take place on Friday, March 15, at 5:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are $40.