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Troy church to raffle off assault rifle

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Albany/HV: Troy church to raffle off assault rifle
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TROY, N.Y. -- A raffle is raising eyebrows in Troy, and it's happening at a place you wouldn't expect, a church.

Some people are upset the Grace Baptist Church is raffling off a semi-automatic rifle.

"It's the right thing to do. It's not illegal," said Pastor John Koletas of the Grace Baptist Church.

He says one should only look at the Bible to get religious support to carry a gun.

"I outline quite a few verses that outline and teaches about it. We have the God-given right to defend ourselves against those who might attack us," he said.

To prove that point, the church is giving away a free AR-15 on during a special service on March 23. On the flyer that Grace Baptist Church released is a picture of a rifle and a quote from the Bible.

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin will be speaking at the event. He says he does not consider the giveaway as anything unusual.

"These are folks that obey the law and go to church every week. How is suddenly their exercise of their second amendment right and their freedom of speech could be considered anything controversial?" McLaughlin said.

Koletas adds that public criticism against gun owners and hunters has increased in recent years. It's another reason why he and his church were spurred to hold the raffle for the rifle, a weapon they say is legal and SAFE Act compliant.

"The dealer in this case is extremely proficient. They've extremely responsible," said Captain John Cooney of the Troy Police Department.

"I sort of feel obligated to be a blessing and a help to gun owners who are being viciously attacked these past few years. And, it's a second amendment right," said Koletas.

The winner would have to qualify to receive the gun. He or she must be at least 18 years of age, have a driver's license, and pass a background check.

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