Gun Range ‘pansies Billboards Pulled
March 3, 2012 by staff
Gun Range ‘pansies Billboards Pulled, The pop-pop-pop of gunfire echoes in the background as Betty Ashby sits behind a desk, explaining that she doesn’t hate liberals. Or gays. Or any other groups that might be offended by the controversial billboards advertising ProShots Indoor Range and Training, a shooting range and gun shop in Rural Hall that she runs with her husband, Lonnie Ashby, a retired Winston-Salem police officer who worked nine years as an instructor at the department’s shooting range.
“We’re definitely not trying to offend anyone,” she said. “We’re just trying to be lighthearted about a serious subject. They’re always done tongue-in-cheek.”
You may have seen them as you’re traveling on Business 40 or northbound on U.S. 52. One of the billboards near Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for months featured a purple background and a hippie van with the tagline “Liberals Welcome” — as in liberals, who are often anti-gun, are invited to give guns a try.
That billboard now says “Occupy ProShots,” with an arrow sweeping toward a bullet-ridden target. The reference is to Occupy groups that have sprung up across the country since the Occupy Wall Street group began its protests of corporate greed and the growing divide between the rich and poor.
Another one on westbound Business 40 featured a rifle next to a flower with a headline reading “Pansies Converted Daily.” ProShots removed that billboard two months ago after getting complaints from gays and lsbns and their straight allies.
The billboard has since been replaced with another ProShots tongue-in-cheek billboard, playing off the popular bumper sticker in which religious symbols — including a cross, a Star of David and a crescent — act as letters spelling out the word “coexist.” The purpose is to call for more understanding between Christians, Jews and Muslims.
In the ProShots billboard, drawings of handguns and rifles take the place of religious symbols to spell out the word “coexist.”
The Rev. Angela Yarber, a minister at Wake Forest Baptist Church, said she first noticed the coexist billboard as she walked in the Martin Luther King Day parade last month.
Yarber, speaking for herself and not the church, said she and other marchers found the billboard offensive, and worried that it sends a message that promotes gun violence.
“I don’t think it’s funny; I think it’s something that shouldn’t be joked about,” she said. “The rhetoric isn’t helpful. It doesn’t unite people.”
Imam Khalid Griggs of the Community Mosque of Winston-Salem said he finds the billboard “appalling.”
“Minimally, it’s inappropriate to use a symbol of peaceful coexistence among the world’s religions, to exploit that representation for the purpose of selling weapons,” he said. “We don’t need this kind of symbol.”
Rabbi Josh Brown of Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem said he has seen the billboard but declined to comment.
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