A Georgia gun club is offering a chance for families and their children to have their annual Christmas picture taken with a Santa Claus bearing an assault rifle, WSB-TV reports.
The Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range is hosting ‘Jolly Old Saint Nick’ on Saturday, Dec. 13, when children can have their photo taken while Santa holds an an AK-47, AR-15, FN-SCAR-17, or a choice from a a selection of handguns.
“It’s not trying to send a message,” said the range’s co-owner Robyn Marzullo. “It’s just about having a good time, getting into the holiday spirit and giving back to the community. Our customers and the people who support us will love to do something different for the holidays.”
While the opportunity to have a picture taken with Santa is for a good cause — families are asked to bring canned food to the event to benefit the Sandy Springs Community Assistance Center — it is not without its detractors who object to associating the holiday with weaponry.
Opinions about the event, after it was posted on WSB’s Facebook page, were sharply divided, with one man writing, “What kind of parent would you have to be to want your child to pose for a picture with Santa with a gun.”
Another woman wrote, “This is sickening!!!. What does guns have to do with Christmas or Santa Clause (sic) for that matter as far as the real meaning of Christmas. No wonder our country is in the shape it is in.”
Gun range employee Casey Retterer defended the event, saying, “Firearms are such a hotly debated item that you’re going to have people on both sides of the fence and you’re going to have opinions flying.”
According to the range, only people over 18 will be allowed to hold guns while having their picture taken with Santa. Children won’t be allowed to hold the guns — all of which are supposed to be unloaded — and children under 12 will be restricted to the shooting club’s lobby.
Watch the video below from WSB-TV: