Billboard ads promoting gun sales in Columbia, South Carolina, have sparked controversy.
Palmetto State Armory is one of the leading gun retailers in the area, and they’ve purchased several different billboard ads to promote their holiday sales, WIS-TV reported.
The advertisements are Christmas themed, and some people find them inappropriate. One billboard has five “Golden Rings” in a loaded revolver, while another has a handgun with a suppressor and the words “Silent Night.”
Attorney Jack Swerling said he is particularly disappointed with the ads.
“We have a right to say what we want and they certainly have a right to put that up,” Swerling told WIS-TV. “But I also have a right to comment on it, and I did not think it was appropriate, an appropriate use of the image and the words from that song.”
Swerling said he has a concealed weapons permit. He added that he’s been a crime victim himself, and he keeps a gun to protect himself. Still, he finds the “Silent Night” ad offensive.
“I just thought that was totally inappropriate,” Swerling said. “Silent Night is a beautiful song. And I'm Jewish. But I was offended for the Christian community that they would try to make that play on words and images.”
The ad campaign had already generated several complaints from other people in the community. The company’s marketing officer, Adam Ruonala, issued the following statement on Black Friday, Nov. 27:
“There's a lot of people that really enjoy the humor behind the advertisement. And there are some people in our community that don't necessarily like it. We've spoken to them directly. I've received calls and I speak to them and you know as a member of the community one of the great things about this country is that everybody is allowed their opinion and we don't by any means discourage that. And we just kind of explain to them that it's not something that we're not necessarily trying to tie Christmas and Christ to firearms.
"It's more of people, this is their passion. Hunting. Shooting sports. All kind of things, it's their passion. And so they have the right just like anybody else to enjoy the specials that we would offer this time of the year when buying is up.”
The billboard ad controversy comes in the wake of two recent mass shootings; one in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead on Dec. 2, and another in Colorado Springs that killed at least three people on Nov. 27, the Washington Post reported.
In the year 2015, that marks 355 mass shootings in the United States so far.