Gun store's Obama ad stirs trouble

HULL, Ga. --- A gun shop that used Barack Obama's name to hawk weapons has backed down, saying the message was meant to champion gun rights, not threaten violence.

Georgia Outdoor Sports owner Carrie Mentel said she advertised an "Obama sale!" -- on "Guns Ammo Archery" -- outside her Hull store Wednesday morning because firearms enthusiasts are worried the Democrat will step on their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

But some passing motorists interpreted the sign as a call for violence against the country's first black president.

After receiving complaints, Ms. Mentel on Thursday arranged new letters on the sign, instead urging potential customers to "Support the 2nd Amendment."

"It's a bad choice of wording," Ms. Mentel said of the original message.

Athens resident Shannon Foley was on her way home from Danielsville on Wednesday when she and her two children noticed Mr. Obama's name on the sign.

"My assumption was that it had to do with gun control laws, but it could be very easily misconstrued and hurtful," said Ms. Foley, a stay-at-home mom.

When she got home, Ms. Foley asked fellow members of a local parenting group to call the shop to ask owners to change the sign.

Georgia Outdoor Sports' owners were trying to use "a little bit of humor" to increase sales and bring attention to a serious issue affecting their livelihood, Ms. Mentel said.

But the specter of race in the election -- and reports of threats made against Mr. Obama's life recently -- made the gun sale's message far from a laughing matter, Ms. Foley said.

"I didn't vote for Barack Obama -- for me it wasn't a political jab," she said. "We don't have a real good history (in Georgia) when it comes to violence against blacks." Some of the complaints Ms. Mentel received mentioned the racial overtones, but she denied any racist intent.

Firearms dealers across the country are reporting increased sales since the beginning of the election season, and especially since it became clear weeks ago that Obama was the front-runner.

"The last three weeks, it's really started to go through the roof," said Josh Smith, of Clyde Armory, a gun and law enforcement supply shop west of Athens.

RUSH FOR GUNS

Gun enthusiasts nationwide are stocking up on firearms out of fears that the combination of an Obama administration and a Democrat-dominated Congress will result in tough gun laws.

Last month, there were more than 108,000 more background checks for gun purchases than in October 2007, a 15 percent increase. They were up about 8 percent for the year as of Oct. 26, according to the FBI. No data were available for gun purchases this week.

Barack Obama has said he favors "common sense" gun laws.

-- Associated Press