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Cameron Park district apologizes for raffling off an AR-15 at fundraiser

This AR-15 rifle was raffled off Feb. 17, 2018 at a Cameron Park Fire Department crab feed.
This AR-15 rifle was raffled off Feb. 17, 2018 at a Cameron Park Fire Department crab feed. Allison Merrill

The Cameron Park Community Services District issued a statement Monday apologizing for raffling off an AR-15 rifle at a weekend fundraiser for its fire department.

Some attendees of the Cameron Park Fire Fighters Association’s annual crab feed on Feb. 17 had said they were upset to find the firearm included among the raffle items. The same type of weapon was used in the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead.

“The district deeply apologizes for this insensitivity to the youth and families affected by the horrific event in Florida and other mass shootings,” the district’s board said in a statement.

In the coming months, the board said, it will be reviewing its policies, including those related to raffle items and the use of its community center, where the fundraiser was held. “The district welcomes the public’s participation in these discussions,” the statement said.

The community services district oversees the fire and emergency services, parks, recreation, solid waste disposal and recycling for the Cameron Park area.

The district’s board met Monday and heard from members of the public on both sides of the issue, General Manager Jill Ritzman said Tuesday. After public comment, board members went into closed session and drafted the response statement.

“I think the bottom line is that the district is taking responsibility and understands that it was a poor choice and has apologized,” Ritzman said. The fire department referred a request for comment to the district.

Ritzman said the fundraiser, which began in 2002, has included a gun raffle for the past eight years. The 2018 raffle included two other guns. Winners of the firearms are subject to the legally required 10-day waiting period and background check, a Cal Fire spokesman said Sunday.

The event raises money for the Cameron Park Explorer’s and Resident Fire Fighter programs.

Several recent gun raffles and fundraisers around the country have faced criticism for their inclusion of AR-15-style rifles. In Missouri, Michigan and Kansas, groups and candidates for office received push back after offering AR-15s for raffle or giveaway.

Similar weapons have been used in other mass shootings, including in Newtown, Conn., Sutherland Springs, Texas and Orlando. An AR-15 also was used in the massacre at a country concert in Las Vegas in October, which claimed the life of a Cameron Park man.

The AR-15 assault rifle is commonly used in mass shootings in the United States. Here's a closer look at likely reasons why.

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison

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