Polarizing billboards along the interstates in Warren and Hamilton counties are getting lots of attention.
“The NRA is a terrorist organization” reads the Warren County billboard located along I-75 just north of the State Route 122 exit through Middletown.
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Mad Dog PAC, a Maryland-based political action committee, paid to put messages like this one on billboards all over the country.
Claude Taylor is the director of the Political Action Committee Mad Dog PAC, which is responsible for the billboard.
“We focus on some different areas and anti-NRA is one of them,” he said.
The Warren County billboard is part of the PAC’s efforts in battleground states, according to Taylor. Of their 58 billboards across the country, about 12 of those display anti-NRA messaging, he said.
The PAC’s installations, which include an “Impeachment Now” sign near President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and at the Interstate 275/Interstate 71 interchange in Hamilton County as well as 14 other National Rifle Association-centric billboards across the country, are splashy, provocative and to-the-point, calling for regulation of the NRA and the removal of various “Treasonweasel” Republican politicians.
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The billboard is meant to spark conversation about the gun control debate, he said.
“We are opposed to what the NRA does and represent and are opposed most vehemently to the NRA’s prevention of any sensible gun safety reform,” Taylor said.
The reforms for which he advocates include those that have gained national traction in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, including a ban on the sale of certain high-power automatic weapons.
“We are starting a conversation,” Taylor said.
Russ Mikesell intends to continue it.
Mikesell, a gun owner who said he doesn’t feel the existing billboard represents the feelings of Middletonians, hopes those with the same beliefs can buy the empty billboard directly beneath Mad Dog PAC’s and use it to display an opposing message.
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“I am for the First Amendment and freedom of speech,” he said. “Let’s go ahead and offer a different perspective on this — not even necessarily advocating the NRA or anything like that. It’s more about the Second Amendment.”
Trenton resident Dan Jones created a GoFundMe to raise $10,000 for a "pro gun message to upset liberals," according to the GoFundMe description.
The campaign had raised more than $1,000 by Monday afternoon.
“I am appalled they (the PAC) are calling me, my friends, my colleagues, my fellow members terrorists because we are members of an organization that is absolutely the opposite,” said Jeff Pedro, a retired police officer who owns an indoor gun range in Moraine.
Pedro, who said he has been a NRA member for more than 20 years, said he is not surprised by the billboard because there are people who have “false narratives and false opinions about the NRA.”
The Warren County billboard cost the PAC between $5,000 and $7,000, according to Taylor and will be up for the next two to three months. The PAC plans more billboards in Ohio until the mid-term elections in November, he said.
This article contains additional reporting by our news partner WCPO.