“Ask about the Bloomberg Gun GiveAway” reads a sign taped to the register at the Bob Moates Sports Shop in Midlothian, Va., register, beckoning customers to enter a drawing named for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Associated Press reports. Bloomberg’s lawsuits against gun dealers in five states have drawn the wrath of Virginia’s gun enthusiasts. Bloomberg calls the dealers holding the contest sick. The dealers call Bloomberg words that aren’t fit to print.
“This has proved to be a battle royale,” said Philip Van Cleave of the pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League and mastermind of the giveaway, which has boosted business for the two store owners. Bloomberg has sued 27 out-of-state gun dealers, alleging that they sold firearms illegally to undercover private investigators conducting a sting. City officials say the dealers have supplied hundreds of weapons used in New York City crimes. The lawsuits, which name dealers in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia, ask the court to require monitoring of the shops’ sales. Nine dealers, including two in Virginia, have settled with the city. The owners of two Virginia stores being sued said they were forced to close because of legal fees. In January, two other store owners began fighting back with the gun giveaway.