Lake Oswego reverend buys 150 tickets in rifle raffle, plans to destroy weapon
LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- The winner of a controversial AR-15 rifle raffle by an Oregon softball team is a Lake Oswego church reverend, who now plans to destroy the weapon.
Christ Church Episcopal Parish Rev. Jeremy Lucas purchased 150 $20 tickets, valued at $3,000, to win the rifle.
Lucas said he learned of the rifle raffle from KATU's news partners at Willamette Week. The Oregon's Big League Girls' All Star Softball Team was trying to fundraise a trip to California to play in a tournament through a raffle. The grand prize was an AR-15 rifle.
"I hate that we live in a world where a girls' softball team feels like they have to raffle off a rifle to get enough money to go play a game," he said.
He says they needed to raise at least $6,000 in a short period of time. A team representative told Lucas they decided to raffle a weapon because other teams have had success in the past.
"I was going to offer them as much money as I could to get them to stop the raffle, to pay for their trip in full," Lucas told KATU News. "They let me know that they can't do that, that once you start a raffle in Oregon, it's against the law to stop it."
So, five days before the raffle, he purchased as many tickets as he could.
"I bought 150 the first time," he said. "By the time I went back again to try to buy another 100 or 150, they had already sold them all."
Lucas learned the team sold 499 tickets.
"I read somewhere that somebody else bought about $1,700 worth of tickets and didn't win," Lucas said. "I had good chances, but not the best chances."
Lucas paid for the tickets through a personal church fund and member donations. When he made it public that he planned to destroy the weapon, he received threatening messages.
"I always had two goals," Lucas said standing among the pews at Christ Church Episcopal Parish. "One was to help the softball team get to California to play in their tournament, and the other was to just have one less gun and that's what my faith leads."
Lucas said he's working with local artists to transform the weapon into a positive message.
"Do something creative with something that is so destructive," he said of his plans. "That might speak to people's opportunity, to just take one small step, just do one thing to change our conversation."
Lucas said he stands by his decision.
"Just because it's legal, doesn't mean it's always the right thing to do," Lucas said. "It's one less gun that could be used to threaten someone or terrorize someone."
"The winner has the right to do whatever he wants with the prize, if he meets the requirements to receive the prize in the first place," said Georgia Herr, a representative of Oregon District 2 Little League, in an email to KATU News.
An Oregon's Big League Girls' All Star Softball Team representative did not respond to KATU's request for comment by deadline.
Lucas said he will go through a complete background check before purchasing the weapon from a licensed federal firearms dealer. He expects to have the weapon within a few days.
"These are good parents trying to do something for their kids, I totally understand that," he said. "I happen to believe that the world is going to be a better place when there are fewer guns in it."