An AR-15 “assault rifle” giveaway by a large church in Missouri has some Christians arguing over gun control laws. But is it even legitimate to call these weapons being given away an assault rifle?
In a related report by The Inquisitr, a shooting in Miami has reports claiming that “high power automatic weapons” were used to gun down several people. If true, that would be quite an event since some sources claim “the ATF says that no true assault rifle has been used to commit an actual crime. They are rare and very expensive, not something street criminals are likely to have.”
According to the Joplin Globe, the AR-15 giveaway is intended to “get more people to follow Jesus” and Heath Mooneyham, lead pastor of Ignite Church, believes that arming the congregation is a good method for doing this:
“If we get people in the door, we get to preach the gospel. If we can get more people to follow Jesus, I’ll give away 1,000 guns. I don’t care.”
The reason that Ignite is giving away free guns is biggest the 18 to 35 age group of the Millennials is the “biggest black hole in our society.” In addition, they have sponsored shooting and hunting events.
For this past Father’s Day, Ignite held a raffle where each person could enter a name and they were given an additional ticket if anyone brought their father to church with them. The prize was two so-called “Black Rain AR-15 assault rifles.” Dan McCain, who won one of the two AR-15 rifles, explained his feelings on the matter:
“I was very happy to win the rifle. I’ve never won anything in my life, so it was exciting. I enjoy hunting and target shooting. I haven’t had the opportunity to hunt in a while, but hope to change that this season. Firearm ownership does not equate to violence.”
Not all Christians in the area were as happy with the idea. Steve Urie, pastor at the Joplin Diversity Fellowship, seemed to hint that gun control is the answer, not more weapons:
“I think giving away weapons, with all the violence in this country, gives way to new violence. I don’t think it’s just nontraditional. I think it’s careless and reckless.”
Now the website Raw Story referred to the two rifles given away as “Black Rain AR-15 assault rifles,” which technically is not accurate according to some. The AR-15 represents around 60 percent of all rifle sales in the United States and “AR” does not refer to “automatic rifle” or anything illegal. In fact, it stands for ArmaLite Rifle and according to Kobayashi and Olson in the Stanford Law and Policy Review:
“Prior to 1989, the term ‘assault weapon’ did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term, developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of ‘assault rifles’ so as to allow an attack on as many additional firearms as possible on the basis of undefined ‘evil’ appearance.”
The 1994 Assault Weapons ban legislation, which has already expired years ago, is claimed to have been based upon cosmetic appearances. The semi-automatic AR-15 itself isn’t illegal but a high capacity 30-round magazine is restricted in eight states and a modification to make the rifle fully automatic would be illegal. Fully automatic machine guns are limited to the military and police, although there are exceptions for certain pre-1986 full automatic weapons, which requires a special application and fees.
What do you think about Ignite Church giving away free AR-15 rifles?