“These are our First Amendment rights too… If people don’t like it, they don’t have to look…”
A roadside billboard advertisement featuring St. Nick holding an AR-15 rifle has been causing a stir in Northern California.
The Down Range Indoor Training Center in Chico borrowed the iconic image of the jolly fat man emblematic of the Christmas season and retrofitted him with sunglasses, a mean mug and an AR-15.
The range’s co-owner, Steve Dyke, feels the billboard lends the Christmas season a little humor.
“You know, ’tis the season, so we thought it would be a good idea,” Dyke explained to CBS Sacramento. “We actually got a kick out of it – thought it would be good and other people would think it was funny.”
Dyke says Constitution-savvy customers like the image and agree it’s a freedom of speech issue.
“That’s a First Amendment right, Second Amendment right, excuse me, and I believe in it fully,” one customer told CBS.
Others, however, feel the range is tarnishing the otherwise wholesome reputation of Father Christmas, who holds special significance for children this time of year.
“Oooh my goodness…” gasped an after-school teacher. “He looks evil (laughs). That’s kinda scary… 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.”
Another resident said the ad’s message contradicted the holiday spirit.
Written by ADAN SALAZAR
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