Pro-gun billboard outside PA town creates buzz

HARRISBURG, Penn. (WHTM) -- Billboards, for the most part, are supposed to do two things: create awareness about a product or service and, more specifically,{}sell that product or service.

A new billboard towering over the town of Harrisburg, Penn., has created a conversation that the sponsor hopes will lead to greater sales.

The sign sits above Interstate 81 North just past Front Street and just before Cameron Street. It has three iconic images -- a baseball mitt, an apple pie, and a rifle -- above the words "Pure American."

The billboard was placed there by Texas company, Slide Fire, which makes a $369 firearm accessory that allows shooters to fire their weapons more safely and rapidly.

In a phone interview{}Monday afternoon, Slide Fire chief executive manager Laura Shackelford said the billboard celebrates the many freedoms that Americans enjoy.

"Our Second Amendment rights are 'All-American' and we have a First Amendment right to speak about them," she said.

It is certainly a{}company's right to display such a billboard, but to put it in a city that is struggling with gun violence is just plain wrong, according to Democratic state Rep. Patty Kim.

"Guns to us in Harrisburg means death, especially illegal guns," Kim said. "When we see a gun, a handgun, it's painful because so many of us have fallen at the hands of illegal guns. We need to do something. We can't make it something flippantly like it's part of America. It's not."

Republican Congressman Scott Perry also represents Harrisburg. He is pro-gun and wrote the expansion of the Castle Doctrine. He said he's not sure{}the provocative billboard is furthering the conversation.

"I would like to see it say the baseball, the apple pie, and freedom guaranteed by the Constitution is the American way," Perry said. "But here again, free speech. We all have our way. You can also disagree with the way that the message is portrayed. I'm not sure it is helpful."

On social media sites, comments came rapid fire, hundreds of them{}in minutes. Most of them were pro-gun and pro billboard.

"You have the right to post whatever you want, as long as it is not obscene or promoting illegal activities. If you do not like it, do not look at it," wrote one person.

But for tens of thousands of motorists who pass Harrisburg every day, not seeing the billboard is not easy.

Slide Fire confirmed the billboard will run about a month and it was put up in advance of the NRA-backed Great American Outdoor Show at Harrisburg's Farm Show Complex which runs Feb. 1-9.