The raffle of an AR-15 style rifle that had been scheduled this weekend at the Sioux City Bandits indoor football game has been indefinitely postponed. Brett Funke, the team’s marketing and sales director, says plans for the fundraiser began a year ago, after a similar gun raffle on “military night.”

“The rifle that was set to be given away is a fully custom rifle from our partners which is a veterans-owned organization and the company that helped make the rifle is also a veterans-owned organization,” he says. “Our whole intent there was supporting these two partners, but after internal conversations, we decided it would be best to postpone.”

Funke says he’s not sure when the riffle raffle will be rescheduled, but now is not the time for it after AR-15s have been used at recent mass shootings in Buffalo, Texas and Oklahoma. A Sioux City businessman had threatened to withdraw his sponsorship of the Bandits after comments the team’s owner made to the Sioux City Journal — that complaints about the give-away were from mainly from East Coast residents who drive electric cars and have an overblown obsession with a piece of metal. Funke admits that spurred a social media firestorm.

“I would say this gained traction online from people who have no connection to Siouxland or the Bandits organization,” Funke says.

There were no objections or outcry about last year’s fundraiser, according to Funke.

“We were able to give away the rifle last year,” Funke says. “Anybody that would enter had to be of legal age. When the winner was picked they had to go to our partner’s location, which is a licensed firearms dealer, undergo the background check.”

The Bandits will still honor veterans at their game Saturday and collect donations for veterans’ causes. Veterans also will be invited to walk around the field at halftime, so the crowd can recognize and applaud the group.

(By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)