CHICO (CBS/AP) — A billboard showing Santa Claus carrying an automatic rifle is drawing controversy in a Northern California town.
The billboard put up on the outskirts of Chico comes with the slogan “We build AR’s for Santa,” and advertises for a gun range that assembles such weapons for sale.
The gun range owners said they didn’t intend to make the ad offensive. They said some people give guns as Christmas presents, and they put the ad up along California Highway 99, on the outskirts of town, to draw attention to their fledgling business.
“And you know, ’tis the season, so we thought it would be a good idea,” said Steve Dyke, co-owner of Down Range Indoor Training Center. Dyke says like it or not, the Santa ad is staying up.
One resident said juxtaposing a symbol of joy and giving with a weapon is “just so contradictory.” Another woman said she wouldn’t want her son to see Santa holding a gun.
“Obviously, Santa Claus is synonymous with Christmas,” said Dyke. “We actually got a kick out of it — thought it would be good and other people would think it was funny.”
Billboards are banned within Chico city limits. However, that doesn’t apply to the gun range since it’s technically outside town.
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