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Troy church giving away modified AR-15
TROY -- Does the Bible defend a person's right to keep and bear arms? That's the question headlining an ad offering up a free modified AR-15 rifle.
Grace Baptist Church in Troy will give one away for free during a service later this month. Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin will speak at church that day -- and defends the giveaway saying it's no different than any other church fundraiser.
You might expect a raffle of some kind at a church bazaar for instance, but some say the choice for this prize is bizarre.
"The bible is replete with defending yourself and arming yourself and being capable of defending yourself," said the church's pastor, John Koletas.
Koletas says the proof is in the passages. It believes giving away a free modified AR-15 rifle is the right thing to do.
"Because we've been a blessing to other people I sort of feel obligated to be a blessing and a help to gun owners and hunters who have been viciously attacked these last few years, and it's a Second Amendment right," Koletas said.
Across the river, another pastor who's made his mission getting guns off the streets is not only perplexed, but also outraged.
"There's no way we should be in a church saying we're going to be giving away a weapon that could end up in the wrong hands," said Pastor Charlie Muller of the Victory Christian Church.
"It's the God-given right to love your neighbor as you love yourself and really care for your community," Muller said. "A church is established in a community to be a light, to show the way."
Assemblyman Steven McLaughlin (R-Melrose) is scheduled to speak when the raffles are drawn. He's been a vocal critic of New York's gun control laws, but says the weapon to be given away is legal, and SAFE Act compliant.
"Just as if you went in to a gun shop you'd have to go through all the permitting and all of the checks and everything else so there's really nothing out of the ordinary there but the setting could be viewed as somewhat unusual."
When asked what he would say to those who disagreed with his church's choice for a raffle prize, Koletas stated simply: "my question to them is why do they have locks on their doors?" In other words, Koletas takes the position that people have the right to defend themselves as they see fit.
The raffle is planned for March 23. Muller said he would offer whoever wins the gun twice what it's worth in gift cards.