Jan. 22, 2013 at 12:27 PM ET
Groupon has suspended all gun-related deal promotions, the popular online daily deals company told TODAY on Tuesday.
"All scheduled and current gun-related deals featured on Groupon North America, including shooting ranges, conceal-and-carry and clay shooting, have been placed on hiatus while we review internal standards that shape the deal inventory we feature," Groupon spokesperson Julie Mossler told TODAY. "The category is under review following recent consumer and merchant feedback."
Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in December that rocked the nation, President Barack Obama has pushed for new gun-control legislation, including reinstating a ban on assault weapons, and tighter background checks. Last week, New York became the first state to enact new gun-control laws following the tragedy that claimed the lives of 20 schoolchildren and six staff.
But Groupon's move, first reported by AOL's DailyFinance, has Second Amendment rights proponents up in arms. One Texas gun shop owner has taken to Twitter to call for a Groupon boycott, and others have taken up the cry, with numerous retweets, including ones by the Twitter feed for the NRA.
Central Texas Gun Works owner Michael Cargill, pictured above, called for the boycott after the daily deals company terminated his concealed-handgun-license training class promotion. That happened just days after Groupon had asked him to increase the number of class slots he was selling, emails Cargill forwarded to TODAY. The promotion was so successful it was in danger of selling out.
The deal was $69 for an initial 10-hour concealed handgun license (CHL) course for one, normally $140, or $129 for two individuals. The course, a requirement before receiving a concealed-carry permit in Texas, covers gun safety and law, verbal incident de-escalation tactics, and shooting-range training. The promotion, started early last week, was set to end on Saturday or after 600 signups, whichever came first. The day after the promotion started, it already had several hundred signups, and Cargill's Groupon account rep contacted him about doubling the number of slots, as it was in danger of selling out. Cargill approved the increase.
Cargill said his Groupon rep told him that Groupon's CEO, Andrew Mason, had a change of heart. He said his rep told him Groupon was shutting the deal down "because of all the issues about gun control by Congress, the president and in the news." The gun-store owner's Groupon rep directed all questions to Groupon's press spokesperson. Mossler declined to comment beyond Groupon's initial statement.
Last year, Cargill ran the same promotion with Groupon. It sold out in four days.
Google Offers, LivingSocial, and DealFind couldn't be reached for comment. In the past Google Offers and Dealfind have promoted concealed pistol license and weapon certification classes. LivingSocial has also marketed deals like "AK47s, Rifles and Pistols Followed By 8 Drink Tastings" for $130.
Despite the national conversation about gun control, Cargill says he sees nothing wrong, or dangerous, about teaching more people how to use guns and giving them the training they need to legally carry a concealed handgun.
"If someone's going to commit a crime, they're not going to take the time to take a 10-hour class first," said Cargill.