Gun range billboard sparks outrage

Gun shop billboard sparks outrage
Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 5:12 PM EDT
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LANSING TWP., Mich. (WILX) - If you’re driving into the Frandor shopping complex on Saginaw Hwy., you’ve likely passed a billboard that says, ‘Shoot a real machine gun.’

It’s for Range 517, a shooting range and shop about 9 miles west of Frandor.

The billboard is starting a firestorm on the app Nextdoor, despite the fact the billboard has been up for several months. Some of the comments say the sign is offensive given the recent mass shootings in Boulder and Atlanta. Others say it promotes learning and gun safety classes. Range 517 general manager Chris Periatt says News 10′s request for an interview was the first time he’s heard the billboard was viewed as offensive.

“They have a right to say that, but we have a right to put the billboard up as well,” Periatt said.

East Lansing resident Monica Silva posted her displeasure with the billboard on Nextdoor too. She doesn’t want to see gun advertisements at all, this one included.

“I’m wondering if there would be a way this community could have some power to decide whether they find it useful or offensive in a public display like that,” Silva said,

The Range 517 billboard shows someone trying to teach a person how to use a gun, but the words, ‘education’, or ‘safety’, are not mentioned in the ad.

“You have a right to express your opinion. That’s what the constitution gives you,” Periatt said of people with complaints. “But we also have the right to conduct our business.”

Machine gun rental is one of Range 517′s special offerings. Periatt says it’s not common around here, and that’s why this specific ad exists.

Silva though is tired of seeing this and other gun advertisements.

“We abolished public displays of advertising for cigarettes for example,” Silva said. “Because we decided that it was not in the interest of the communities, and it was bad for the common good. For me, it is deeply offensive.”

Despite the complaints from some, Periatt says Range 517 is not going to give in.

“You have a right to be offended. That’s the great thing about this country, if you don’t like it, OK. But we’re not going to take it down,” he said.

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