Cloquet Ford Chrysler takes flak for free gun deal
CLOQUET, Minn. - For the past several weeks, customers who buy a vehicle from Cloquet Ford Chrysler could choose between a free lawnmower ... or a free Ruger handgun.
CLOQUET, Minn. - For the past several weeks, customers who buy a vehicle from Cloquet Ford Chrysler could choose between a free lawnmower … or a free Ruger handgun.
Pretty quickly, the dealership came under fire from the Northland Brady/Protect Minnesota Chapter, which urged people via Facebook to call the dealership and complain. Some did.
If the plan was to intimidate the Cloquet business, it backfired, owner Al Birman said.
“Now we’re not ending the offer this week, we’re extending it until Father’s Day,” he said, adding that the dealership has seen increased business and a broader customer base plus a 3,000 percent increase in Facebook traffic since the deal began generating both controversy and plenty of free publicity.
WCCO-TV from Minneapolis came up last week. On Tuesday, Birman talked with “Kam and Company,” a national talk show on the Patriot radio channel with Sirius radio.
It’s not like the car dealer is simply handing over a gun to anyone who makes a purchase either. Birman said the gun shop that’s part of the promotion will be running thorough background checks on anyone who chooses the free gun.
In the beginning, it was simply about helping out another business person in the area - Stadium Pawn shop owner Dave Gilberg - by making his new store in Duluth’s old Stadium Lanes part of the latest promotion.
Then what Birman describes as pretty rude attacks started on Facebook and others rose to his defense.
“All of a sudden I’m a pro-gun whack job who’s going to arm children,” the exasperated car dealer said, explaining that people who choose the gun have to go through all the same steps as they would buying a gun directly from the store. In addition, he noted, each gun comes with a lock.
“It’s the user, not the item,” he said. “Both [a lawnmower and the gun] are on the showroom floor and neither has cut my grass or killed anyone yet.”
For that matter, lawnmowers also cause accidents and even deaths, Birman noted on the phone and on Facebook, but no one is fussing about free lawnmowers.
For Al Birman, it’s become an argument about second amendment rights to bear arms as well as his own rights as a businessman to give away whatever he believes will draw customers, within the limits of the law, which he says this deal abides by.
People are showing support for guns by coming to Cloquet Ford Chrysler now, he added, even if they already have a gun and choose the free lawnmower instead.
The Cloquet business has gotten attention from all over the country via Facebook, Birman added, saying the vast majority of comments are supportive.
A Northbrook, Ill., man wrote on the dealership FB page: “I absolutely love this ad! If I was closer, I'd come and buy a vehicle just for the free gun!”