A New York church is planning to give away an AR-15 during a service later this month.
To announce the giveaway, Grace Baptist Church in Troy, N.Y. distributed a flier proclaiming, “Win a FREE AR-15” and just below that, “…my peace I give unto you… John 14:27.”
Church attendance is required to win the gun. The flier states that Grace Baptist “reserves the right to disqualify those of questionable character” and that all applicants must be 18 or older and will be subject to a federal background check.
The church pastor didn’t respond to an interview request from WNYT-TV.
Pastor Willie Bacote of the Missing Link Ministry said the church has no business giving away a gun.
“Even though they have the disclaimer there of questionable character and background checks, I don’t believe the church should serve in that capacity of arming people in any particular way, except through the word of God,” Bacote told WNYT, adding that he’s been working toward getting guns out of his community.
Troy City Councilwoman Lynn Kopka said there has to be a better way to get people to worship, but Republican state Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin — who’s slated to speak at the event — said he doesn’t understand the controversy.
“It’s a legal product. Churches raffle off items all the time. My church has a $10,000 raffle every single year,” he told WNYT. “I mean, I don’t know how it’s a controversy, quite honestly, that law-abiding, church-going citizens of New York that are legal gun owners are taking part in a raffle to raise funds for a church.”
Troy Police spokesman Capt. John Cooney told WNYT the department recognizes the “uniqueness” of the gun giveaway, but that the church is within its right to do so as long as laws are followed.
“We recognize the uniqueness of the gun giveaway and expect full compliance by the church relative to all applicable rules and guidelines attached to the matter. We balance our oversight with respect of the Second Amendment rights provided to our citizens; the United States Constitution is the foundation of the work we do,” Cooney said in a statement.
So what’s your take on church’s gun giveaway and the Bible verse used in the flier?