Church Cancels Teen Gun Giveaway
OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma church canceled a controversial gun giveaway for teenagers at a weekend youth conference.
Windsor Hills Baptist had planned to give away a semiautomatic assault rifle until one of the event's organizers was unable to attend.
The church’s youth pastor, Bob Ross, said it’s a way of trying to encourage young people to attend the event. The church expected hundreds of teenagers from as far away as Canada.
“We have 21 hours of preaching and teaching throughout the week,” Ross said.
A video on the church Web site shows the shooting competition from last year’s conference. A gun giveaway was part of the event last year. This year, organizers included it in their marketing.
“I don’t want people thinking ‘My goodness, we’re putting a weapon in the hand of somebody that doesn’t respect it who are then going to go out and kill,'” said Ross. “That’s not at all what we’re trying to do.”
Ross said the conference isn’t all about guns, but rather about teens finding faith.
“You make a lot of new friends down here,” said Vikki Goncharenko, who attended the conference. “You get to meet new people. There's a bunch of things that are going on. It's just, you have a wonderful time.”
Friday evening, Ross said the gun giveaway had been canceled. Pastor emeritus Jim Vineyard, who ran the event, injured his foot and wouldn’t be able to attend. The gun giveaway was also removed from the church Web site.
Ross said the church would give the gun away next year instead. He said the church spent $800 buying the gun for the promotion.