An Oklahoma City gun shop said it was “caught by surprise” after anti-gun activists attacked the business over its holiday billboard.
In the advertisement for H&H Shooting Sports, Santa Claus wears dark sunglasses and carries a rifle over his shoulder. The same image also appears on the gun shop’s website, advertising its “12 Deals of Christmas.”
Gun control activists told Oklahoma City’s KFOR that they thought the ad sent a “horrible message” to kids.
“I’m here to tell you that’s a horrible advertisement because guns are not for children and Santa Claus isn’t for adults,” said Joshua Harris-Till, leader with Moms Demand Action, Oklahoma chapter.
Harris-Till suggested the ad could be seen as encouraging kids to play with firearms.
“Are we advertising to children here to say, hey, Santa likes guns, you kids, you like guns?” he asked. “It misses the mark in so many different places.”
However, H&H Shooting Sports said the ad wasn’t controversial. The activists’ complaints in the news report, caught them “by surprise” as they’ve had an “overwhelmingly positive” response to the Christmas ad, Mike Rust, VP of Retail Operations, told Fox News Digital.
“Overall, the response has been overwhelmingly positive from our customers in store, and on social media. The support for the ad has been incredible, and we are honored and blessed to have such supportive customers,” Rust said.
“Our billboard was intended to turn some heads here locally in a fun and festive way, but when the news story came out it sort of blew up. Santa Claus is a beloved Christmas icon, and we wanted to include the image as a way to promote our products and get people into the holiday spirit,” he added.
Other members of the community appeared to have no problem with the billboard.
Cherelle Walker, who lives nearby, didn’t see anything nefarious with the ad. “It’s Christmas, so they are trying to promote and advertise selling their guns,” she said to KFOR.
That sentiment seemed to be shared by other community members under KFOR’s Facebook post sharing the story.
The post has received over 700 comments since Thursday, with a majority of accounts expressing support for the gun dealer. Several commentators said they loved the billboard and joked that Santa “needs protection” too.