‘Tis the season for anti-gunners to turn into snowflakes over gun stores and ranges offering holiday-themed promotions. The latest flurry of gun control outrage comes from Oklahoma City and H&H Shooting Sports, the full-service gun store and range that’s drawn the ire of anti-gun activists over a billboard featuring an armed Santa wearing sunglasses with a rifle slung over his shoulder.
“It’s just it misses the mark in so many different places,” said Joshua Harris-Till, with Moms Demand Action, a gun violence prevention program in Oklahoma City.
A News 4 viewer agreed with Harris-Till, sending us an email stating, “in light of the fear that children in schools face every day because of multiple mass shootings in this country, I question the wisdom of associating what should be a carefree time in a child’s life with a gun-toting image of someone they are told will be entering their home.”
“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 Harris-Till.
Ho-ho-holy cow is that a stupid take. I guess if Harris-Till were in charge of the Holiday Police, not only would H&H’s billboard be banned, but songs like “Santa Baby” or “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” would be verboten as well, not to mention tunes like “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” I can only imagine the rage that Harris-Till must feel when he sees “A Christmas Story” on his television during the holidays, though he must love the part where the department store Santa tells young Ralphie that he can’t have a Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time because he’ll shoot his eye out.
Tim Shoopman, director of brand communications for H&H Shooting Sports, offered a tongue-in-cheek response to Harris-Till’s tinsel-clutching to NBC affiliate KFOR-TV, telling the station, “We love Santa Claus as much as the next person, and we thought this billboard would be a fun way to share our holiday spirit with our customers. We chose an image of Santa with a firearm because that is what we sell. We know that a large number of people give guns as Christmas presents, and we want those people to know that Santa shops at H&H.”
Shoopman should probably offer Harris-Till a special holiday discount, given all the free publicity he’s given H&H during the holiday shopping season. And Harris-Till could probably use a little pick-me-up, given that the store’s promotion doesn’t appear to bother too many KFOR viewers or Oklahoma City residents. The gun store’s promotion may roast Harris-Till’s chestnuts (or frost his Christmas cookies, if you prefer), but an online poll on the news station’s website shows 83 percent of respondents believe the billboard isn’t in poor taste, with only 16 percent saying they have a problem with it. That’s an even more embarrassing defeat for the gun control activist than the outcome of the 2022 elections. Harris-Till was the Democratic nominee for the Fifth Congressional District in Oklahoma and got trounced by incumbent Stephanie Bice by 22 points, losing 59-37 to the first-term representative.
For his sake, I hope Santa treats Harris-Till better this Christmas than the voters did on Election Day last year, even if he did unleash his inner Scrooge on a gun store just trying to spread a little Yuletide cheer (and offer up some deals for its customers). And while Harris-Till wasn’t successful in getting H&H to take down their Christmas-themed billboard, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I’m sure he’ll get another opportunity to whine to the local media about their holiday promotions.