MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Cloquet car dealership is getting a lot of attention by offering a very unique deal.

During the month of May, they are offering a free handgun with the purchase of a car.

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If you spend close to $4,995 on a new vehicle, you automatically have the option of a free Ruger handgun or a lawn mower.

“I know that we will run this to the end of the month, and this just might be an on-going promo,” owner Al Birman said.

He is a supporter of Second Amendment rights. And as the owner of Cloquet Ford Chrysler Center, he had no problem pulling the trigger on a unique promotion.

“Criminals typically don’t run to a car dealership, buy a car to get a free gun to go hold up a bank,” Birman said.

He began promoting the special offer earlier this month on TV, radio and in the newspaper.

Almost as soon as the ads began running, the dealership started getting phone calls. Some were supportive; others, not so much.

On Facebook, the Northland Brady/Protect Minnesota Chapter urged people to call the dealership and complain.

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They wrote, “We think this is sending the wrong message. Should businesses just be giving guns away to anyone? Are we assured that a background check will be completed? What about the safety of our children and families?”

“The negativity that came from it was people calling to the dealership and not being nice to the operators, not being nice to the employees,” Birman said. “The yelling, complaining, hanging up and being spineless. They didn’t even ask for me.”

Birman pulled all advertisements for the campaign, but says support has far outweighed the negativity. He’s thinking about bringing the ads back.

“Some people are real interested in it, I’m sure they’d like it. It wouldn’t be for me. I wouldn’t care for a gun,” customer Edwin Janzen said.

Customer Tammi Richards says she’s fine with the promotion.

“It’s not guns that kill people, it’s people that kill people because they just can’t go off by themselves,” Richards said.

Birman says the gun shop that’s part of the promotion will be running thorough background checks on anyone who opts for a gun.

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He has responded to criticism on the dealership’s Facebook page by posting a link that shows how many people are killed or injured each year by lawn mowers.

John Lauritsen