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Wyoming construction company: Buy a new roof, get a free AR-15
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Wyoming construction company: Buy a new roof, get a free AR-15

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Colt Rifles

In this Aug. 15, 2012 file photo, three variations of the AR-15 rifle are displayed at the California Department of Justice in Sacramento, Calif. A Powell construction company is offering free AR-15 rifles as part of a promotion.

POWELL, Wyoming — A Powell contractor’s promotion has generated some controversy. From now until the end of the year, Wiggins Construction is offering a free AR-15 rifle with every new home or commercial roof.

Some people “are not happy about it. We’ve gotten some pretty hateful, vulgar comments,” said Matt Thomas, who does marketing for the company.

Thomas said he got the idea reading about how many people are moving away from larger cities to this area, in some cases to escape regulations, high costs and a degradation in the quality of life.

“They’re moving to a state that has freedoms. … This is a welcome gift and a thank you for doing business with Wiggins Construction,” Thomas said.

As soon as he posted the promotion to the company’s social media page, Thomas said, critical comments and calls came in.

While there were people supportive of the giveaway, the post was shared across the country. He said he got calls from people in Illinois, California and New Hampshire. They left voicemails calling him a “baby killer” and demanding the company stop offering the free rifles.

A lot has changed for the National Rifle Association since pouring millions into Donald Trump's successful 2016 campaign. A bankruptcy filing, scandals and legal battles plaguing what has for decades been one of the most powerful forces in politics, have given gun control advocates renewed hope that something can get done in Congress."Our opponents are on their heels, the NRA declaring financial and, really, moral bankruptcy," Sen. Richard Blumenthal said during a recent congressional hearing on guns. "And we have, maybe most important, a powerful grassroots movement that has produced results at the polls, wins for members of Congress."Just over four years ago, the NRA was among the nation's top outside political spending groups endorsing Trump and putting nearly $55 million into the 2016 elections. The rise of gun control groups ahead of the 2018 midterms resulted in the NRA being outspent by its opponents for the first time. It retook the spending advantage in 2020, but with a sum considerably smaller than that of four years earlier.The NRA did not respond to Newsy's request for comment for this story. But even as the group's influence dwindles, the importance of protecting gun rights has not waned for many who make up the voting base of the Republican Party."Even with an organizationally weakened NRA, the massive level of support the NRA has built around gun rights still exists," said Matthew Lacombe, author of the new book "Firepower: How the NRA Turned Gun Owners Into a Political Force." "And so there still may be electoral consequences for Republicans for supporting gun control."That means the biggest hurdle to any gun legislation still exists: getting Republican support.Still, there may be room for optimism for gun control advocates, between the growth of outside groups countering the NRA's message as well questions about the Republican Party's future after Trump. "I do think that there are more openings for gun control than in the past," Lacombe said. "I do think that the split that's occurred within the Republican Party between the sort of Trump wing and the non-Trump wing, if that split grows, it may provide some openings for some sort of moderate Republican members of the Senate to support gun control."

In defense of the promotion, Thomas said that Wyoming has more guns per capita than any state in the country.

“Last time I checked, I think Wyoming’s the safest state in the United States to live in,” Thomas said.

With a population spread out over a wide area, Thomas explained, response times for law enforcement can be longer, meaning people need a way to defend themselves.

“Some people don’t see it quite how we do,” Thomas said of the critics.

The company did consult with its lawyer to make sure they were conducting the promotion according to the law. Customers must provide proof they’re over 21 and that they’ve never been convicted of a felony. They also have to sign a form saying they’ll abide by all state and federal regulations. Before handing the weapons over, the company will log the gun’s serial number and sign it over to the customer with transfer of ownership documentation.

“You can use this thing for hunting. You can use it for target practice, home defense. You can just hang it on your wall as a wall piece,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the company had its busiest year in its history last year, and it’s currently booked out for two years on most of its work. Wiggins Construction took on the roofing promotion in order to book out that part of the business to the end of the year.

The company was started nine years ago by Josh and Todd Wiggins, originally called Wiggins Fencing. They eventually added roofing and general contracting, and renamed the company Wiggins Construction.

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