NAVARRE — “Mega May Giveaway!” the Rotary Club of Navarre’s flyer announces in a bold red font to promote its 4th annual Gun Raffle to raise money for youth and other nonprofit organizations.
Each of the 31 days in May, handguns, rifles and semi-automatics will be raffled to those lucky enough to possess one of the 1,000 tickets sold. One ticket costs $35, or you can buy three tickets for $100.
The value of the weapons gradually rise during the month, starting May 1 with a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun valued at $249 and ending May 31 with the grand prize, a Daniel Defense semi-automatic rifle priced at $1,549.
Navarre Rotary President T.J. Goulet estimated that only about 150 tickets remain that the public can buy from Rotarians, Oak Ridge Gun Range, Broxson Outdoors, Navarre Auto Repair or online at Navarrerotarygunraffle.com.
He said the gun raffle was a fit for this area and that he expects it to sell out, just like the three previous ones did.
“The Rotary doesn’t make political statements. We are free to own guns,” Goulet said, citing the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protecting American’s rights to keep and bear arms. “There are no moral issues. High schools have shooting clubs. To us, it’s not controversial.”
“I was a hunter as a small child,” he added. “I had a single shot .410 as an 8-year-old. I have never had one of my guns shoot a person. We live in an area where guns are popular.”
The Rotary Club of Crestview, Laurel Hill Volunteer Fire Department and Holt Volunteer Fire District are among other local groups that have held similar gun raffles over the years.
Gay Valimont, a Gulf Breeze resident, understands the Rotary Club of Navarre isn’t the only one that runs a gun raffle to raise money. However, the volunteer leader of the Florida Chapter for Moms Demand Action, a “gun sense” advocacy group, called for caution.
“My concern is once those weapons are in the hands of people they will want to make a couple of bucks off it,” said Valimont, as she drove to Tallahassee to support state lawmakers’ gun control legislation. “No background check is required. The Rotary Club needs to consider the unintentional consequences that could happen with this.”
Navarre Rotary gives away all the money it raises, among other things, to scholarships for Navarre High School graduates, the Weekend Food Program for disadvantaged Navarre students and the Holiday Meals Program.
Additionally, the club holds several annual fundraisers, including a pancake breakfast every fall and a chili cook-off at the Gulf Breeze Zoo during Zoo Lights.
Doug Kennedy said he has one problem with the gun raffle. He works at Navarre Auto Repair that sponsors the fundraiser.
“I liked it better when cash was the grand prize,” he said.