ST HELENS, Ore. -- A St. Helens softball league is raising funds by raffling an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

The St. Helens Girls Softball League was hoping to raise more than $3,000 through the raffle, which would be used to maintain fields, buy uniforms and pay for umpires, league officials said.

The winner of the raffle gets the rifle, along with two 30 round magazines. According to the contest rules, the winner must be at least 18 years old and legally allowed to own a firearm. If necessary, the league will pay for the $25 background check.

When asked why the league chose such a potentially controversial fundraiser, St. Helens Girls Softball Association president Devin Degraffenreid explained it was about raising money for a good cause.

It was purely revenue based. People are going to have their opinions and I cannot change their opinions, he said. None of the raffle tickets were ever in the girls' hands. This was an adult-to-adult, word-of-mouth type deal.

But some parents were critical of the grand prize, especially in light of recent gun violence. Many argued that semi-automatic rifles and softball just don't mix.

Parents will discuss the issue at a softball meeting Thursday night.

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