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Ignite Church pastor addresses criticism following rifle giveawa - KOAM TV 7

Ignite Church pastor addresses criticism following rifle giveaway

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 Ignite Church in Joplin has been facing some heat after hosting a rifle giveaway over Father's Day weekend.

Some Joplin residents are stirred up about the two 15-AR sport rifles given away.

"It's crazy because in the Bible it says 'Thou shall not kill' and now they're giving out permission to give out guns and everything," said a Joplin resident.

"I think it's great," said Brad Wiese, Springfield resident.  "I think it's awesome that we have the freedom to do that and that those guys now have the necessary tools to protect themselves."

"It's insane, it's crazy," said Arthur Golden, Joplin resident.  "It's not a good idea. It's a really dumb idea.  Who thought this was a good idea?"

"I don't think it's a big deal," said Claude Divine, Diamond resident.

Supporters say it is taking advantage of Second Amendment rights.

Opponents say other prizes would have been better suited for a church giveaway.

Despite all the debate that's been sparked by the giveaway, staff members at Ignite Church say they do stand behind their decision.

"It's just in our culture," said Heath Mooneyham, lead pastor of Ignite Church.  "The guys around here really like shooting and hunting, so we thought what better thing to give away."

Mooneyham says the rifles were given legally, with a background check and paperwork completed.

He also clarifies AR-15 guns are sport rifles, not assault rifles.

"I had some people commenting that AR stands for assault rifle, but it no more stands for assault rifle than anything," Mooneyham said.  "It stands for ArmaLite rifle."

Mooneyham also says the giveaway was not a publicity stunt, but simply an effort to draw in people who the other churches are not reaching.

"People maybe say it was a ploy to recruit members, but first of all, our church doesn't have membership, people just attend," he said.  "If you like us, keep attending, keep serving.  If not, just don't show up."

Staff members at Ignite Church say they plan on doing a similar giveaway again next year.
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