Mississippi Church Under Fire for Promoting Gun Raffle One Week After Las Vegas Shooting

An AR-15 rifle with a bump stock is shown on sale at Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, Va., on Oct. 6. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
An AR-15 rifle with a bump stock is shown on sale at Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, Va., on Oct. 6. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Matt Sessums was stopping at his local Walmart Supercenter in Oxford, Miss., on Saturday afternoon when he did a double take.

Outside both entrances of the store were tables set up to promote a raffle for a nearby church. The prizes? Two AR-15 rifles.

Tickets were $10 each or three for $20. Manning the tables, Sessums said, were two adults and three children, who looked to be about the same age as his 10-year-old daughter.

“I see this one little girl in particular, you know, pointing to the thing about the AR-15 raffle and getting people to buy tickets,” Sessums told The Washington Post. “It just kind of blew my mind that little kids were participating in something like that.”

Sessums texted his neighbor Kris Belden-Adams, who was already planning to go to Walmart to buy a birthday gift for one of her children to take to a party. When she arrived, she was struck by the same sight.

“I had a kid approach me: ‘Would you like to join a raffle? We’ve got two AR-15s.’ And I’m like, ‘Whoa,’” Belden-Adams said.

Just the Sunday before, a gunman had opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing at least 58 people and wounding about 500. Inside the shooter’s suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, investigators discovered 23 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Among those weapons was an AR-15-type rifle modified with a “bump stock,” a device that allows the gunman to inflict damage more rapidly.

It hadn’t even been a week since the Vegas shooting, Belden-Adams thought.

“We have flags still half-mast for the Las Vegas shooting here in Oxford,” she said. “I thought it was in bad taste at this time to be auctioning an AR-15, the same weapon used in Las Vegas. Or one of them.”

When she got home, Belden-Adams looked up the raffle’s sponsor — the Oasis Church of All Nations — and sent them a message through Facebook expressing her concerns about the timing. According to posts on the church’s Facebook page, proceeds from the AR-15 raffle would go toward its Transformations Life Center, “a 12-month long drug discipleship program for those addicted.”

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SOURCE: Amy B Wang 
The Washington Post