The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 9, 2014

Cross column: Free guns with truck makes good business

If you’re a fan of Ford pickups, and also happen to be in need of a new shotgun, you might consider a drive up to Muscatell-Burns Ford in Hawley in northwest Minnesota.

Buy a new or used Ford truck through Friday, and the dealership will throw a free shotgun into the deal.

Or more correctly, they’ll give you a $350 voucher to buy one from an outdoor store in nearby Fargo, N.D. Buyers would have to comply with all of the firearm regulations that apply to any other retail gun purchase, of course.

To suggest that the promotion to give away guns with a truck purchase tweaked media interest would be a significant understatement.

Virtually every television station in Minnesota and elsewhere, many newspapers, magazines, blogs and radio stations, reported on the promotion. Throwing in a shotgun to sweeten a deal on a new pickup truck?

It makes perfect business sense in and around Hawley, located midway between Detroit Lakes and Moorhead, where the outdoors and hunting are a lifestyle and frequent topic of conversation.

But vehicle dealerships offering guns to close a sale isn’t exactly a novel idea.

In 2010 and 2011, dealerships in Missouri and Florida garnered national media attention by offering free AK-47s to customers who purchased vehicles.

Of course, neither dealership had a semi-trailer on the back lot stacked with the crates of the Cosmoline-encrusted weapons. And in reality, customers weren’t limited to AK-47s.

Just as in Hawley, buyers were issued vouchers and then had to go through a federally licensed firearms dealer, passing the requisite background checks before receiving a gun of their choice.

It is one thing to offer a free shotgun. Even the most ardent gun control proponent could probably understand how a more traditional firearm could be used for sporting pursuits.

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