A small town gun shop in western North Carolina has drawn the ire of liberals and gun control advocates alike after it put up a billboard featuring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and three other liberal congresswomen with the slogan: “The 4 Horsemen are Idiots.”
The sign, which advertises Cherokee Guns in Murphy, started getting attention on Sunday, when the store posted a photo on Facebook saying only “Share.” Murphy is about 240 miles west of Charlotte, in Cherokee County.
Among those sharing: The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence which called the billboard “dangerous.” It also cited President Donald Trump as being partly responsible. Trump has been critical of Ocasio-Cortez and the three others on the billboard: Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
All four are women of color, leading to suggestions from some that President Trump’s criticisms are racist.
“Disgusting anti-government violent rhetoric from Cherokee Guns in North Carolina,” said the coalition’s Monday Facebook post. “Threats against members of Congress, particularly minority members are (rising) and it is driven by the president’s racial rhetoric.”
TV station WTVC reported Thursday, August 1, that the billboard company, Allison Outdoor Advertising, announced on Facebook that it was removing the store’s advertisement from the board because it was “upsetting people.” However, the ad company’s Facebook post was removed later that same day.
Pressley responded to the billboard Tuesday on Twitter, saying: “Racist rhetoric from the occupant of the White House has made hate our new normal. We are still vulnerable.”
She also called out the region’s 11th District Congressional Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican, and told him “to finally do the right thing.”
It wasn’t clear what she wanted Meadows to do.
On Monday, the gun store appeared to be doubling down on its message, posting it was going to offer “4 Horsemen” bumper stickers next week “due to overwhelming demand.” The stickers will be available to people who come to the shop and say they’re voting for Trump in 2020, the store said. “Snowflakes and Liberals are not eligible,” said the post.
When contacted by McClatchy newsgroup about the online debate over the billboard, a shop employee at Cherokee Guns said they had received a few calls “from people trying to tell us what’s what.” He said the owner had left them cue cards should any “threatening liberals” come through the door.
“Show them the door, or your gun, and tell them they can buy their own billboard and pay for it like I did,” the staff member said.
The store told Fox News on Tuesday the billboard had nothing to do with the race, but was a matter of putting “the face of socialism out there so the American people can get a good look at it.”
Reaction on the shop’s Facebook page started slowly Sunday, but grew more heated as the post was shared nationally, with critics taking on conservatives, President Trump and gun owners.
Words like “racists,” “bigots” and “hate speech” have come up a lot in the comments and some mentioned that the post went up the same day as a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Santa Clara County, California that left four dead, including the gunman, and at least 15 injured.
“Freedom of speech,” wrote Denise Piccoli Patterson. “The truth always hurts.”
“Your sign is putting a target on these US Reps. What... is wrong with you? REPORTING YOUR BUSINESS TO ACLU AS A HATE GROUP,” posted Mo Neal on Facebook.
“There was a 6 year old boy shot to death in California yesterday in a mass shooting by a white supremacist who bought in to all the hateful, racist rhetoric,” wrote Christine Wagner. “Words have consequences.”
“The WORLD LOVES TRUMP!” responded Aimee Wilkes. “Your little tag team group of cry babies better get used to losing...”
This is not the first time the store, founded in 2012, has had a controversial billboard up in Murphy. Earlier this month, the shop posted photos of another that featured a muscular Donald Trump flexing his arms in front of a U.S. flag.
“No collusion. No Obstruction. Just Guns!!! One mile on the right,” said the billboard.
It was also debated on Facebook, starting with a woman who swore Trump “never looked like that!”