Gun Store Owner Defends 'Controversial' Sign In Front Of His Home After Facing Backlash

Photo Credit: wheeloffreedom

First Selectman Mark Nickerson revealed that he’s received over a dozen complaints over a sign put up in front of the home of East Lyme resident and Ron's Guns owner Ron Rando.

The sign, which reads: "Scumbag Democrats Have Stolen the Election! Lying - Cheating - Ballot Padding!" is set up in the yard of Rando's Boston Post Road home, adjacent to Ron's Guns and other businesses.

On Tuesday, Nickerson, a Republican, posted on Facebook: "The good citizens of our town are disgusted and outraged by the hateful message ... AND I AM TOO," adding that the town attorney stated that Rando's "free speech rights unfortunately will probably win the day." Nickerson added a photo of the sign and two pictures of the Grinch, writing that Rando is "a GRINCH in every meaning of the word. He is obviously damaged and bitter." 

Nickerson later deleted the post, then apologized in a separate post for offending anyone. He stated that he removed the initial post "because I don't want my post to be the reason we turn on one another ... but that is exactly what happened. My (original post) was meant to promote peace and unity and I am removing the message for the same reason."

Photo Credit: wheeloffreedom

He stated that some of the complaints he received were questioning the legality of the sign, although many had an issue with the messaging.

“I’m not debating the content. I’m debating the tone,” he said in a phone interview. “We’re all entitled to free speech. We’re entitled to have an opinion. I have mine. I wish that we could voice our opinions, whether on social media or on a sign in our own front yard, with a little bit more kindness and a little less hate.”

Town Zoning Official Bill Mulholland stated that he was aware of the sign "and it's under review at this time as to whether we constitute it a zoning issue." Town Attorney Mark Zamarka has yet to comment on the issue.

During a phone interview on Tuesday, Rando stated that the sign was his way of exercising his freedom of speech.

Photo Credit: wheeloffreedom

“That’s my opinion. That’s the way I feel. I’m a taxpayer in East Lyme. I’ve been in business here for 48 years. My taxes are paid every year. If I want to put a sign up about the way I feel, I’m going to do it,” he said.

He said that the sign, which he “might leave up for the rest of my life,” is on private property in his front yard, not in front of his business.

Nickerson's initial post garnered over 150 comments, with a few asking about zoning regulations pertaining to signs and whether Rando needed a permit.

Many thanked Nickerson for speaking out, but others felt that Rando was just seeking attention. Some slammed Rando, citing his previous controversial signs or comments he made at town meetings, including opposing education spending.

Photo Credit: wheeloffreedom

Others stated that Nickerson’s post was inappropriate since he was a town leader.

Self-described libertarian-conservative Greg Simones, stated that he "felt it was one of those things (where) a first selectman probably shouldn't stir things up like that," because "a lot of conservatives feel a bit put-upon by the mob."

He maintained that people have the right to say what they wanted.

Sources: The Day