Originally Published on The DA
Written by Christina Rufo
Big Daddy Guns and Protect Morgantown, a group of community safety activists, have clashed in recent months over the Florida-based company’s opening of a new location in downtown Morgantown. Now, a fundraiser competition could determine whether the gun store opens at all.
In a public statement Tuesday, Big Daddy spokesperson Nicholas Lahera issued a fundraising challenge to Protect Morgantown for students in need. He said the challenge was prompted by the Monongalia County Deputy Sheriff’s Association’s annual back-to-school program, to which Big Daddy was asked to donate.
As part of this proposed winner-takes-all campaign, whichever organization earns the least amount of money for the fundraiser must “cease their operation.”
If Big Daddy Guns loses, company officials say they promise to “vacate The Deck location and allow for a different tenant in the space.”
The money is being fundraised through GiveSendGo and would go directly to the Deputy Sheriff’s Association. As of Thursday morning, Big Daddy Guns has raised over $1,300.
The challenge will end of Aug. 17.
Protect Morgantown acknowledged the challenge Thursday saying the challenge was a “PR campaign to further divide Morgantown residents.” They continue to urge Hardy World, property owners of the Deck location, to prevent Big Daddy from opening downtown.
“This is not a game. If Big Daddy Guns actually cared about Morgantown’s underserved students, they would donate the money themselves,” Protect Morgantown said in its press release Thursday. “Instead, they are dipping into the pockets of Morgantown residents to support their manipulative PR tactic.”
The challenge comes just days after Starbucks pulled out of the Deck location due to safety concerns from community members, such as the close proximity of the gun store to local public schools and West Virginia University.
“We have heard from members of the community and, importantly, many of you about the safety concerns you have for this location’s proximity to another business planned for University Avenue,” Starbucks officials said in a letter last week, as reported by WDTV.
“Unlike Big Daddy Guns, we’re deadly serious about this issue,” Protect Morgantown said. “Hardy World has the power to offer downtown Morgantown a place for coffee and community, or firearms and fear.”
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