Anti-gun advocates are up in arms over a small town Alabama Ford dealership’s latest promotion that offers qualified buyers a free Bible, 12-gauge shotgun and an American flag with the purchase of a vehicle.
The promotion, which runs until July 31, was publicized in a Facebook video by Chatom Ford, which serves the town of Chatom, which has a population of about 1,288, according to the 2010 United States Census. The video was removed around 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday.
It had been viewed more than 123,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon and featured the dealership’s general sales manager Koby Palmer discussing the promotion.
“I guess it went viral, as the kids say,” Palmer, 29, told USA TODAY. “We live in a small town of 1,200 people. It’s a very small, rural area. They lean on their religious beliefs, their pride in America and they love to hunt.”
Anti-gun groups such as Newtown Action Alliance, a national grassroots group formed after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, urged the public not to support the promotion on Wednesday.
“Don’t buy your cars from Chatom Ford, a dealership in Chatom, Alabama! They are running a ‘God, Guns and Freedom’ promotion that promises a Bible, a 12-gauge shotgun & an American flag to anyone who buys a car between the start of the promotion & July 31,” the group tweeted.
Andrew Whitehead, a Clemson sociologist studying Christian nationalism, religion, family, and disability, called the promotion “Christian nationalism” in a series of tweets on Wednesday.
“An Alabama car dealership will give a Bible, a US flag, & a 12 gauge shotgun to new car buyers from now until July 31st. This is Christian nationalism in action. For Christian nationalists, guns, God, & the flag are all key parts of their identity,” he wrote.
“In fact, Christian nationalism plays a significant role in Americans' attitudes toward gun control no matter their religious affiliation. This means that Mainline Protestants who embrace CN look MORE like evangelicals who also embrace CN, than they do fellow MPs who reject CN,” he explained.
“For Christian nationalists, the gun control debate is not just about guns but about the Christian God’s perceived blessing of the right to bear arms. Even moderate gun control restrictions may be perceived as an attack on their beliefs & values. God bless 'Merica,” he added.
Palmer told USA today that his dealership wasn't just “handing out shotguns in Alabama.” He said after a car is purchased buyers receive a Bible and the U.S. flag. They are then offered a certificate that can be redeemed for the shotgun at a certified firearms dealer in town or another in Mississippi which has partnered with the dealership.
"We do not keep guns at the dealership, nor do we give guns directly to our customers," Palmer told Fox 35. "We provide certificates that they present to the licensed firearms dealer. If the customers do not want or cannot purchase a gun, they can use the certificate for something else."
Buyers can also just take their car without the freebies, Palmer said.
“This is just showing support for our local community,” he explained. “Anyone that doesn’t 100% agree with what we’re portraying, we’re not trying to force our beliefs on anybody. We respect anybody that disagrees, no matter how vehemently they do.”
The promotion, he said, has helped the business boom.
“It’s been running for three business days and we sold five cars. In a small town, business is booming,” Palmer told USA Today at the time of his interview.