Billboard in Pensacola calls NRA a terrorist organization

The billboard campaign began at the start of 2018.

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The same anti-Republican political action committee responsible for a billboard that targeted Matt Gaetz in January has paid for a second billboard in Pensacola, this time taking aim at the NRA.

The new sign on North W Street near West Fairfield Drive was paid for by Mad Dog PAC, an organization registered in December 2017 by Claude Taylor, a former White House staffer under Bill Clinton's administration.

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The billboard reads: "The NRA is a terrorist organization."

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Mad Dog PAC's billboard campaign is intended to target House Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

"With the GOP majority in the House and in the Senate, the NRA makes impossible any meaningful, common-sense gun reform," Taylor said in a phone interview Friday. "That includes background checks and assault weapon bans."

Mad Dog PAC solicits donations from the public through its website to fund its billboards. Taylor said he started receiving funds in December for the Gaetz billboard, which displayed Gaetz's mugshot from his 2008 DUI arrest. The caption read "Rep. Matt Gaetz, how many DUIs have you had? The voters deserve to know."

Taylor said the Gaetz billboard was one of the first billboards put up under Mad Dog PAC. Taylor said he currently has a contract for "28 or 29" billboards throughout the country and has received about $5,000 in donations from roughly 3,000 to 4,000 people in the last eight weeks. The billboard campaign began at the start of 2018.

Mad Dog PAC looks to put up its anti-NRA and anti-Republican billboards in traditionally red states. Taylor said Pensacola isn't a specific target of his campaign.

"The Matt Gaetz one obviously went up where it did because it's his congressional district," Taylor said. "We have dozens of billboards up across the country with anti-NRA messages. We looked at putting this one up in about a 100-mile range from Pensacola to Alabama to Mississippi. Just went with the available space."

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The billboard, which Taylor said cost between $5,000 and 6,000, stands a few yards away from A Auto Shop. Shop employee Patrick Eakins said he thinks the billboard will be received negatively in that area around Fairfield. A rifle owner himself, Eakins said he disagrees with the billboard's message.

"It's a freedom of speech thing, but it kind of borders on slander," Eakins said. "A lot of people here count on hunting and harvesting wild game and stuff like that for food. There's a lot of gun owners here that are going to have a negative reaction to (the sign). Personally, I don't agree with what it's saying. With enough money, you can put one of those (billboards) up pretty much anywhere."

The billboard went up the same week that Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods raised their minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 as the NRA continues to receive backlash stemming from the Parkland school shooting. On Feb. 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at the school with an AR-15 assault-style rifle, according to authorities.

Eakins said he doesn't think stricter gun laws or gun control, in general, is an issue when it comes to school shootings like the one in Parkland.

"I think it's an upbringing issue," he said. "It's parental control."

Eakins also said he doesn't think assault-style rifles should be banned in the U.S.

"There's competitive shooting and there's people that collect guns to take out to the range," Eakins said. "I know a lot of responsible gun owners personally. I know whole families that go out on the weekend to the shooting range."

Taylor, whose Twitter bio says he resides near Washington, D.C., said he'll soon have an anti-NRA billboard up in Oklahoma and two in Texas. He said he personally stands behind the message on the signs.

"The NRA is helping facilitate the introduction to the civilian marketplace of a broad range of military-grade weaponry that is inappropriate, unsafe and unwise to have in civilian hands," Taylor said. "And legislatively, the NRA owns the GOP."

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