Pastor who won assault rifle in raffle could face misdemeanor charge

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.Reuters

A US pastor who won an assault rifle in a raffle last week with the intention of destroying it might face charges because he passed it to a parishioner for safe keeping.

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. 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.

As soon as he has his 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.

However, according to Oregon Live he is facing potential charges because the law requires anyone transferring a weapon from one person to another to perform background checks, even when no money is involved.

Captain Bill Fugate, a spokesman for the Oregon State Police, told Oregon Live that Lake Oswego police had asked them to look into the case.

If Lucas were convicted of an unlawful transfer of a weapon he could face a maximum fine of $6,250 and up to a year in jail, Fugate said.

Lucas told the Portland Tribune he would cooperate fully with any investigation and was glad his actions had prompted debate about gun control laws.

"Anything that furthers the conversation about our gun laws in the state of Oregon, I'm happy that that would happen," he said.