Despite recent controversy, a gun store in Merrimack, N.H., plans to keep displaying a poster in its front window naming President Obama "firearms salesman of the year." The poster hangs opposite another contentious poster featuring Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong.
Keith Cox, co-owner of Collectable Arms and Ammo, told The Huffington Post that the posters (seen above) were supposed to be rotated out in the coming weeks to make room for an Easter-themed display. But plans changed when Merrimack resident Chuck Mower complained to town officials about the signs and local media picked up the story, Cox said he's seen too much of a bump in business to change the display any time soon.
"We do plan on sending [Mower] a bouquet of flowers," Cox told HuffPost. "The unintended consequence to his action was just an amazing burst in visibility of our business. ... If he hadn’t complained and tired to force us to take our signs down, I don’t think anything would have happened. We owe him a thank you."
Mower is himself a gun owner, according to the Nashua Telegraph, but he told the news outlet that the pairing of the images in Cox's store represented a viewpoint too fringe not to warrant a complaint.
“Truthfully, I don’t understand why a good businessman would choose to send a message like that,” Mower told the Nashua Telegraph. “To depict the president with AK-47s crossed in front of him and link him with Stalin, Hitler and Mao, that’s way over the top."
Cox, for his part, argued that he is exercising his right to free speech and remarked that the messages of the two posters are intended to be separate.
"If I wanted to imply in people's faces that Obama was like these other guys, I woud have simply photoshopped his image between them like Mount Rushmore," Cox said. "We have two big windows and one side is the Obama picture, and the other side is history's more notorious dictators. We're trying to call attention to history."
Cox said the store has received a handful of emails and voicemails from people who used "atrocious" language to object to the signs, but, he added, the majority of the feedback has been positive.
Dubbing Obama "salesman of the year" isn't an idea that originated with Collectable Guns and Ammo: The National Rifle Association started using a similarly themed image as early as 2009.
The poster's underlying message has resurfaced more recently as a result of the increased national focus on gun control following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Much like the surge in sales that other gun stores reported in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Cox told HuffPost his business has "seen a 300 percent increase through December, January and February," as compared to the monthly averages from 2012.