LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. — A suburban Portland pastor who won an AR-15 rifle in a raffle and then said he gave it to a gun-owning friend for safekeeping will not be prosecuted for transferring the weapon without conducting a background check, authorities said.
Officials were investigating whether Rev. Jeremy Lucas may have violated a recent state law that makes transferring a gun without a background check illegal, even if the arrangement is between private parties and no money changes hands.
But investigators uncovered no evidence that Lucas, 45, actually transferred the gun and never determined the name of the gun-owning friend, Clackamas County District Attorney John S. Foote said in a letter to the Oregon State Police.
The letter was written on Sept. 9 and made public Thursday by state police.
Lucas didn’t speak with investigators, state police said in a statement.
“Without the transferee in this case, I don’t think we could ever have a prosecutable case,” Foote wrote.
Lucas, a pastor at Christ Church Episcopal Parish in the affluent suburb of Lake Oswego about 10 miles south of Portland, said in interviews this summer that he spent about $3,000 in discretionary church funds to buy as many rifle raffle tickets as he could for a softball league fundraiser.
When he won, he passed a background check to take possession of the weapon.
He told The Washington Post in July that after he won the rifle, he gave it to a friend for temporary safe-keeping.
But a state law passed last year makes transferring a gun without a background check illegal, even if the arrangement is between private parties and no money changes hands.
The Oregon Firearms Federation, which lobbied against passage of the law, pointed out Lucas’s potential law violation to the Oregon State Police, the Lake Oswego Police Department and 30 state lawmakers.
Kevin Starrett, the group’s executive director, said Friday he was not surprised that authorities did not charge Lucas.
“Of course they would not prosecute, because it would illuminate the lunacy of this law,” he said. “It’s theater. It’s farce.”
Comments Lucas made to the newspaper about the transfer of the gun were “insufficient to prove that it happened,” Foote wrote.
Lucas could not be reached to comment Friday at the parish offices, which were closed for the day.
There was no immediate response to an email seeking comment sent to a general parish account.
This story has been corrected to reflect that the letter’s author was Clackamas County District Attorney John S. Foote, not Senior Deputy District Attorney Bryan Brock, and that the letter was written on Sept. 9, not Thursday.
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