Newspaper ad attracts international attention

Swan Hill Shooting and Fishing Supplies ran the advertisement 'Show your love with a firearm' to encourage gun owners to consider buying a gun as a Valentine's Day gift option.

Swan Hill Shooting and Fishing Supplies ran the advertisement 'Show your love with a firearm' to encourage gun owners to consider buying a gun as a Valentine's Day gift option.

An advertisment placed in the Swan Hill Guardian last Friday is creating headlines worldwide.

It sparked debate about the appropriateness of linking firearms to Valentine's Day.

Swan Hill Shooting and Fishing Supplies ran the advertisement 'Show your love with a firearm' to encourage gun owners to consider buying a gun as a Valentine's Day gift option. 

National and international online media latched onto the news after radio presenter Neil Mitchell raised the topic on his talkback show.

Shop owner Rebecca Orlando said she had not expected the attention that the advertisement had attracted.

"It was not planned to make the ad go viral," she said.

"I spoke with the advertising team and we tossed some ideas around and it was suggested we go for a lighthearted approach.

"It was never meant to go viral. We are not planning to create more that go viral, but we are a business who sell guns."

The ad may have drawn some complaints, and plenty of online comment from the public but Ms Orlando maintained it was never meant to be taken too seriously.

She said she had received a lot of support, including from the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia.

"I think people see it the wrong way," Ms Orlando said.

"It's about the way people interpret it; it was never meant to cause the stir it has."

Neil Mitchell expressed his concern that the ad had made an unusual connection between love and firearms and questioned the appropriateness of this due to firearms being used to commit crimes. 

He also argued legal guns were more often used in suicide and family violence incidents.

Ms Orlando said she believed that view came from the perception of looking at guns the wrong way.

"Our ad was about love and while it's a bit controversial the emphasis was on love," she said.

"I believe this has become a big deal because the media hyped it up.

"We ran this exact same ad on our Facebook page last Valentine's Day and didn't get a single complaint.

"I do understand and sympathise with victims of domestic violence but we were never talking about that."

While the Valentine's Day ad has reached all corners of the globe within a few days of running, Ms Orlando said she was not expecting additional sales as a result.

"It's provided a lot of exposure but whether that's good or bad remains to be seen I guess," Ms Orlando said.

Pick up a copy of Friday's Guardian (February 17).

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