A California gun range is using Santa Claus' jolly old image to promote firearms.
Down Range Indoor Training Center in the town of Chico recently put up this billboard featuring Santa holding a semi-automatic rifle, CBS 13 reports.
The business was just looking to drum up some attention, co-owner Steve Dyke told The Huffington Post.
"Overall, it's been overwhelmingly positive," Dyke said, although he noted that the response has been much larger than anticipated. "It was intended just to turn some heads here locally, but it sort of blew up."
Dyke also said that he sees no reason why Santa and guns can't mix.
"I got guns from Santa Claus when I was growing up," he said. "Some people get toys and some people get firearms. It's kind of just where you're from."
Some locals were less pleased. Teacher Sara Welday told CBS 13 that she thought the billboard made Santa, who also sports dark shades, look "evil."
The gun industry does a brisk business around the holidays and, like the rest of retail, has a history of using Santa to boost sales.
The National Firearms Association, which is the Canadian equivalent of the National Rifle Association, ran an ad this year featuring Santa Claus giving a Windham AR-15 to a young boy. The AR-15 is the same style of rifle used by shooter Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Back in the U.S., the National Retail Federation estimated that sales of firearms will increase by 4 percent during November and December of 2014. On Black Friday, a gun is sold every three seconds, according to the FBI.
Dyke stressed that his billboard is not intended to encourage violence.
"I've received some comments that say just because Santa's holding an AR, that means Santa is saying it's OK to kill people," Dyke said. "There is no way that we condone any type of violence against anyone."