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Free gun promotion fires up sales

November 16, 2010

A Missouri dealer offered a free handgun with every vehicle sold through May 31 and said sales quadrupled during the offer.

Customers of Max Motors in Butler, Mo., could choose $250 in gas or a free semi-automatic handgun. Employee Walter Moore, who devised the promotion, said the handgun is the more popular choice.

"Right now," Moore said in late May, "we’re running 80 percent toward the gun. Owner Mark Muller said every buyer "except one guy from Canada and one old guy" chose the gun.

"We’re just damn glad to live in a free country where you can have a gun if you want to," said Muller.

The logo of the GM dealership, located about 65 miles southeast of Kansas City, features a cowboy holding a pistol.

Jerry Hertzog, who was buying a new truck, said: "Love guns, we all need to have guns. Guns or gas or fuel, I’ll take the gun anytime."

Moore said most of his customers already own guns. He said: "I get in a vehicle to bid a trade, there are guns on the seats, guns in the back windows. Everybody has a gun. There’s no backlash.

"I don’t understand what’s the bad idea. Telling people they have the right to protect themselves."

Vehicle buyers were required to pass a background check before obtaining a gun. The local police chief said he was fine with the promotion as long as the weapons weren’t handed out at the dealership.

Illinois’s motor vehicle advertising regulations prohibit dealers from offering free gifts in connection with the purchase of a vehicle whose selling price is negotiated, except if the gift is offered through a manufacturer’s program or a dealer advertising association.