UPDATE: Rochester car dealer's free AR-15 promotion criticized amid Orlando massacre
ROCHESTER - A Seacoast car dealership has a special summer promotion going that’s getting plenty of criticism in light of the Orlando terror attack.
If the car you want to buy has a gun sticker on it, you could go home with an AR-15. The dealership has never been busier.
Is he a marketing genius or just asking for trouble?
Owner Mike Hagan of Hagan’s Motor Pool told NH1 News he’s been called both.
“This wasn’t started to make any kind of message or political statement and it happened well before terrible attacks in Orlando,” said Hagan.
The nightclub shooter used a rifle similar to the AR-15 that Hagan is giving away with the cars off his lot, but the actual weapon used in the Florida mass shooting was a Sig Sauer MCX.
Hagan also is offering a 9mm pistol for those who may prefer that firearm. If the car you want comes with a gun and you are not interested in a firearm, Hagan said he will adjust the price.
“We’re giving these weapons away to people who can lawfully obtain them, and we’re confident people are going to maintain them responsibly,” said Hagan.
The promotion started in the May and will run through August. It has definitely boosted car sales and has gotten the dealership's name out though not everyone is loving the promotion.
“To me that’s just getting more of the nut jobs out there doing harm to more people that don’t deserve it,” said Jen Marks of Lebanon.
“My opinion, military and police are the only ones that should have them,” said Lynn Pelleiter of Wolfeboro.
One person backing the promotion is Renaissance Firearms owner Ernie Shipman. He told NH1 News no one is getting a gun from the car dealership without going through him.
“We handle the logistics, because he can’t give out guns like he’s giving out candy,” said Shipman. “We facilitate the ATF mandated background check.”
Both use their knowledge of firearms, and in Hagan’s case, a military background of reading people before handing over a gun.
Hagan, is a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, and said he understands how seriously these weapons need to be taken to make sure they don’t end up in the wrong hands.
“If I chose to decline someone because I’m not getting a good feeling, I certainly will,” said Hagan.