Mark Detro said today that instead of seeking $5 campaign donations in his "Pro-gun Donation Campaign," he will hold a banquet and give away guns and other items as door prizes.
Detro, a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 2nd Congressional District, announced his original plan Thursday, saying it was the perfect way to raise money and let people show their support for the right to bear arms.
"One of the things we ran into in Oklahoma are gambling laws that concern raffles and lotteries," Detro said today, after deciding to alter the plan. "We certainly don't want to violate any state laws."
The state attorney general's office did not return a phone call today seeking comment. Gerald Adams, a spokesman for the attorney general, said Thursday that it is illegal to hold a raffle or lottery where money must be given to qualify for a prize.
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Under his original plan, Detro said, the gun winners would receive a safety course from the National Rifle Association and would have to undergo background checks before receiving the firearm. He now plans to hold a June 30 banquet instead.
Gun control advocates are outraged at the idea, but not shocked. Other pro-gun candidates in states like North Carolina and Maryland have planned similar events.
Kim Mariani, spokesperson for Handgun Control, said, "It's the wrong message to send to kids, especially in the wake of Columbine and first graders shooting first graders, that we are offering a weapon that destroys thousands of lives every year as a prize."
The announcements come two weeks before a scheduled court appearance in Sequoyah County, stemming from Detro's arrest in January for alleged assault and battery with a deadly weapon.
Detro, owner of the Sallisaw Inn, was arrested after police found a man bleeding from the head wandering outside the motel. The man told authorities that Detro had beaten him with a metal pipe.
Detro contends he was defending his property after the man broke into one of his motel rooms.
Detro is seeking the seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Tom Coburn. He is one of several Republicans running for the seat.