NAVARRE — Rotary Club of Navarre is raffling off the chance to win not one, not two, but 30 guns during May.
The drawing begins on May 1 and each ticket offers 31 chances to win. On May 31, the grand prize of $2,500 cash will be up for grabs.
TJ Goulet, club president, acknowledges that the organization is sensitive to the national conversation about gun violence. In light of recent school shootings in Parkland and Great Mills, Maryland, the Rotary Club delayed advertising the giveaway online out of respect.
“We geared it back several weeks,” Goulet said. “We wanted to be as respectful as possible. Obviously, the Parkland shooting was a tragedy.”
In Navarre and neighboring areas in Santa Rosa County, Goulet said they haven’t received much backlash about the raffle.
“As a club and as a community, we’re proud gun owners and we’re for legal, responsible gun ownership,” he added. “All guns are being issued by a federally-licensed gun dealer with a litany of restrictions. We’re not just handing them out.”
The fundraiser started three years ago and typically raises between $10,000 to $15,000. All of the guns up for grabs are handguns or rifles. Goulet said it’s a common fundraiser for Rotary Clubs, noting that the Crestview Rotary Club also holds a similar raffle.
The raffle has a maximum of 1,000 tickets and typically sells out the first week in April. One ticket is $35 or you can purchase three for $100. Money raised from the giveaway is used to support Rotary causes such as scholarships for ROTC students at Navarre High School, providing support to military spouses and helping to raise funds for local food pantries.
“Last year, we were able to give a $6,500 grant to My Father’s Arrows, a children’s home in Jay, for an aquaponics farm,” Goulet said. “Now they’re able to grow 50 to 60 percent of their vegetables. The gun raffle paid for that.”
Robert Davies, general manager of Oak Ridge Gun Range in Navarre has been a sponsor of the raffle since its inception. Just like any firearm, the guns that are part of the giveaway will be subject to background checks and state requirements.
“Even the new ones,” Davies said. “They have to be at least 21 years old. All of them have a three-day waiting period unless they have a concealed carry permit, they’re active duty, correctional officer or have a valid hunting license.”
Davies said he likes the raffle because it goes to a good cause. The odds are pretty good, too. Every year he’s seen at least one person win more than one gun.
“Come by and get a raffle ticket while I still have a few left,” he said.
For more information on the raffle, visit navarrerotary.org/rotary-club-of-navarre-gun-raffle.