Controversial sign sparks conversation about free speech, gun rights

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NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. – “Get your guns now!” a life-sized sign featuring President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton says. “Before we do.”

The owner of North Fort Myers Guns at 1246 N. Tamiami Trail, declined requests for comment Thursday, saying his sign does all the talking. But the sign makes a suggestion about Obama and Clinton’s stances on gun control.

The idea that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wishes to repeal the Second Amendment is one that has been repeated by her rival for the presidency, Donald Trump, on the campaign trail. But his comments get Clinton’s gun policies wrong, as many fact-checking sites have noted. In Wednesday’s final presidential debate, Clinton explicitly cited the historical importance of gun rights.

“I understand and respect the tradition of gun ownership,” she said. “It goes back to the founding of our country. But I also believe that there can be and must be reasonable regulation… I think we need comprehensive background checks, need to close the online loophole, close the gun show loophole.”

In a PBS NewsHour town hall, Obama flatly denied claims that he “Hillary or Democrats or whoever you want to choose are hell-bent on taking away folks’ guns.” In a question posed by a gun shop owner, who asked about the application of common sense to gun laws and use, Obama responded, saying:

“At no point have I ever, ever proposed confiscating guns from responsible gun owners. So it’s just not true. What I have said is precisely what you suggested, which is, why don’t we treat this like every other thing that we use?”

Despite remarks from top Democrats, groups like the National Rifle Association believe American citizens’ rights to own guns are under attack and make it a priority to defend them.

The sign outside North Fort Myers Guns inserts itself into these conversations about gun rights and free speech in Lee County.

Sean Gresh admits he hates both Obama and Clinton who he believes are trying to restrict gun use.

“If somebody wants to have a gun they’re gonna get it regardless so why take it away for people who want to own it responsibly? I’m sorry ’cause I hate both of them people,” he said with a laugh.

Gresh supported the sign’s message, but another Lee County resident, Mary Shaw, did not.

“I think it’s wrong. It’s just insensitive. They’re people, too. They’re doing the best jobs that they can,” she said of sign’s subjects.

Shaw said the owner of North Fort Myers Guns may be wishing harm on the two politicians.

“They could be potential hazard for them to be shot, seriously shot,” she said. “Somebody’s obviously thinking about it if they make something like that up.”

The sign did not offend Dianne Deforge.

“They got a right to put a sign up just like anybody else. So, you know everyone has their own opinion. If I don’t like it then I don’t like it,” she said. “That doesn’t mean the next guy coming by doesn’t like it. If it offends me, well then, it offends me. I don’t have to look at it.”

All three residents are supporters of the Second Amendment. But one resident, originally from Scotland, said she didn’t understand American’s fascination with guns.

“I don’t know if there’s a necessity for guns. I think the more people who have guns the more people who have guns,” she said.

Trump’s gun policy, like Clinton’s, includes background checks. He will not pursue laws that restrict the use of certain guns and magazines and is looking to elect a Supreme Court Justice who will honor conservative gun ideals.

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