Holiday-themed billboards touting firearms and noise suppressors in the Midlands again are leading to controversy over their message.

A petition is making its way around the Midlands that calls for Outdoor Advertising Association of America to request holiday-themed banners from Palmetto State Armory be removed.

The ads feature ammunition, rifles and other firearms. But a petition on says the Chrstimas-themed messages are “patently offensive and incompatible with community standards.”

“These ads market guns, ammunition and silencers through the use of verses from Christmas carols and cartoon images from children’s stories,” the petition states. “They disrespect families, mock Christian beliefs and flout the norms of common decency.”

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Calls placed to Columbia-area Palmetto State Armory stores went unanswered on Friday. But the company has addressed the ads before.

In 2015, WIS highlighted controversy surrounding the seasonal billboards. At the time, Columbia attorney Jack Swerling said the “Silent Night” billboard, featuring a gun noise suppressor, was especially offensive.

Adam Ruonala, the company’s marketing officer, told WIS at the time that people enjoyed the humor behind the ads.

“And there are some people in our community that don’t necessarily like it,” Ruonala told the station. “I’ve received calls and I speak to them and you know as a member of the community one of the great things about this country is that everybody is allowed their opinion and we don’t by any means discourage that. And we just kind of explain to them that it’s not something that we’re not necessarily trying to tie Christmas and Christ to firearms.”


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