Gun billboard in National City sparks controversy

City wants it down, store owner said no

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. - A billboard in National City with a picture of an AR-15 rifle has drawn the ire of the gun lobby after the owner of a store that sells parts to build your own gun was cited by the city.

"We're being targeted," said Dustin Bortin of Ares Armor, who put the billboard up.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison said, "That's absolutely not true. If they took the same message, with the same graphics and language and put it in the front of their store, we don't have an issue."

The issue is a city ordinance which said any new business after 2012 could not have a rooftop billboard. Prior to that, businesses were grandfathered in. Ares Armor opened in 2013.

"This billboard is a part of the building," Bortin said. "It's been here since the 50s and would cost tens of thousands of dollars to take it down."

An Internet campaign which said this is about the Second Amendment has the gun lobby calling the mayor's office.

"They're trying to make this about the First or Second amendment, and it is none of that at all," Morrison said.  

The company has been issued a citation, but the sign will stay up until the appeals process with the city is completed.

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