Reuters – Janet Huckabee, wife of Republican and Christian politician Mike Huckabee, shoots an AR-15 assault rifle at a gun shop during a presidential campaign event earlier this year in Hiawatha, Iowa.
A Christian pastor spent $3,000 to buy as many tickets as he could afford to win the a raffle – and now he is planning to destroy his prize.
This is because the prize was an assault rifle of the kind often used in mass shootings in the United States.
Rev Jeremy Lucas of The Episcopal Church’s Christ Church parish in Lake Oswego, Oregon, deliberately set out to win the AR-15 rifle.
He spent $3,000 from a personal fund and donations and bought 150 raffle tickets. He won the prize, even though 499 were tickets sold in total.
Now as soon as he has his gun licence and can take possession of the gun, he will melt it down and work with an artist to have it remodelled into a symbol of hope.
The raffle was organised to raise funds for a softball team from Milwaukee High School and other nearby schools who wanted to travel to California to play in the Western Regional Tournament.
Lucas said it was a “win-win” situation because he had helped the girls get to the tournament but also it meant there will be one gun fewer in the world.
“This gun will never be used for a mass shooting, this gun will never be used for any of those tragic events that we pray for, hold moments of silence for. No-one will ever hold a moment’s silence because this gun has done that thing. And that made me pretty happy,” he told KGW.
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Speaking to Portland Tribune, he added: “It’s a small, symbolic act. There are millions of guns, I know that. But this gun will never be used to kill kids in schools, kill people in a movie theatre, kill people at an office party or at any other place of mass shootings. This gun will never be found by a child who accidentally shoots a friend, or accidentally used by a police chief who’s had too much to drink at a barbecue and shoots a friend.
“It won’t be used by a vet with PTSD to kill himself — that happens once every hour, and having guns available makes it a quick and easy solution.
“It will never be stolen and used to commit a crime or used to threaten a family in a domestic violence situation. If I had the chance for $3,000 to keep any of these things from happening — even one time – I’d do it again in a second.”
Ryan Payne, who coaches the softball team, said they held the raffle because they found they were spending more time washing cars for cash and doing other fundraising than they were training.
The rifles normally sell for up to $1,200.
The raffle was launched two weeks before a terrorist killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He was not using an AR-15 but a Sig Sauer MCX rifle. It was resulting social media traffic that made Lucas aware of the raffle.
He said: “In Isaiah, God calls us to beat swords into ploughshares and create a world of wholeness, health, life and love, and nothing I have read in the Gospels tells me that Jesus would want more guns in the world.”