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Gun Business Challenges Arizona City's Refusal To Renew Advertising Contract

•, by Michael Clements

City officials did not respond to emails and telephone messages seeking comment for this story before press time.

During a recent city council meeting, a deputy city attorney said city leaders are reviewing advertising policies. He took issue with how the dispute was portrayed in news reports.

"The city is not abusing its power to advance an anti-gun agenda," deputy city attorney Kevin Fincel told the council.

Rob Wilson owns Timberline Firearms and Training. He purchased ad time on the video monitors over the baggage carousels in the Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, along with other Flagstaff businesses, in 2019.

He decided to advertise in the airport while traveling for his other job as a consultant with the U.S. Navy when he saw how many tourists pass through the airport.

Mr. Wilson contacted Clear Channel, the company that handled advertising at the airport at the time. Clear Channel presented the ad to the city, which approved it, and it ran during tourist season.

According to Mr. Wilson, last April, he applied to run the ad again this year, hoping for a post-pandemic boost to his business. Instead, he was told the ad was no longer acceptable. He was told the city had a policy against promoting violent or anti-social messages.

The Timberline ad shows a photo of people holding semi-automatic rifles and a short video of a firearms instructor working with a person who appears to be firing a fully automatic rifle on an indoor range. He was not told which part of the 10-second spot violated the policy.