A billboard for a Northern California gun range is drawing controversy for featuring Santa Claus carrying an AR-15.
According to CBS Sacramento, the billboard for Down Range Indoor Training Center in Chico, California shows Santa with a gun and a tagline that reads: “We build AR’s for Santa.” Co-owner Steve Dyke said the local gun range had to come up with something creative to attract customers.
“And you know, ’tis the season, so we thought it would be a good idea. We’re right next to the freeway, so we have to do something to catch people’s eye.”
While the billboard makes the gun-toting Santa look intimidating, Dyke said it’s meant to be humorous.
“Obviously, Santa Claus is synonymous with Christmas. We actually got a kick out of it — thought it would be good and other people would think it was funny.”
Dyke’s partner, Will Clark, added that while the billboard shows Santa carrying a gun, he is also cautious about his safety.
“Santa has got his eye protection on, his fingers off the trigger, [and] the gun’s pointed in a safe direction.”
But there are some people who feel uncomfortable with it. Sara Welday, an after-school teacher, admitted that she was shocked when she saw the gun range’s billboard.
“As a teacher, I would not want my students to see that. I don’t think you need to put out that as Santa has a gun.”
Chico resident Tom Imhoff told Action News Now that he is also not impressed with the billboard.
“The idea of this symbol of joy and giving holding an assault rifle, it’s just so contradictory. You almost don’t know what to do with it.”
But Dyke said he meant no harm with the billboard, and it will remain up until Christmas is over.
“Well, you know, some people get toys and stuff like that for Christmas. Other people, when I was growing up, I got guns from Santa Claus. I mean, it’s just a matter of where you’re from.”
Chico resident Shaun Murdock doesn’t see anything wrong with the gun range’s billboard.
“People need to see the humor in it. It is Christmas time. You know what do they sell? Guns. How are they supposed to advertise?”
And while there have been some complaints about the billboard, Dyke said he has gotten quite a bit of positive feedback for it. He also mentioned that there are plans to run billboards for the gun range that could feature the Easter Bunny and Cupid.
[Image via WTKR]