March 13, 2014 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- As American as apple pie, baseball, or assault weapons? A billboard on I-55 draws criticism from the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a prominent priest in Chicago.
The Slide Fire billboard has the words "PURE AMERICAN" written under the images of a baseball glove, apple pie and assault weapon. Below that, more images: the American flag, the Greek symbol of a fish that represents Christianity, and the Statue of liberty.
Rev. Pfleger wants the billboard in the inbound lanes on I-55 between Cicero and Central taken down.
"I think there is this great move by manufactures, NRA, and others to make guns part of America's wardrobe; this is not what we define America by," the Rev. Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina's Church, said.
Lamar Advertising owns the billboard. Rev. Pfleger said placing the sign not far from the city's West Side reinforces the stereotype that Chicago is violent.
"They have a choice to say we do or do not want this kind of ad on our billboards. We are hoping public opinion will let them, this isn't what they should be taking money for," Rev. Pfleger said. "With the loss of so many of our children due to gun violence, the last thing we need is to make an assault weapon a symbol of American life. This is disrespectful and must be removed."
ABC7 was unable to reach Lamar Advertising. Slide Fire, the Texas-based firearms part manufacturer that bought the ad, said it deliberately chose President Barack Obama's hometown because of the city's crime rate and restrictive gun laws. Slide Fire makes something called a Slide Stock that "allows your gun to be a rapid fire, almost like a machine gun, but doing it legally. Illinois doesn't allow machine guns," gun dealer Louie Asanon said. He sells the part at Pops & Guns.
Asanon said the placement of the billboard will reach millions of Illinois gun owners. While Father Plfleger and others are offended, Asanon says there are plenty of other offensive billboards out there.
"You see billboards with alcohol all over the place. They are just as deadly as guns in the wrong hands," Asanon said.
(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)