Headline: "Gun shop’s name on youth jerseys concerns parents" [UPDATE: Bar's logo of armed man drinking apparently does not]

by Chad D. Baus

The Toledo Blade is reporting that a local gun shop's sponsorship of a youth baseball team in Bedford Township, just across the border from Toledo in Michigan, has some parents crying foul about "the message it sends."

From the article:

Todd Bruning wanted to sponsor the Cubs because his two children play on the team. But when players got their jerseys Thursday, some parents were upset that the name of Mr. Bruning's business — Todd's Guns of Lambertville — adorned the front of the shirt.

Coach Barry Walters said he wouldn't let his son wear the jersey. He disagrees with gun shop advertising with a kids' team, especially after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut that left dozens dead at the elementary school.

"Don't use my kid as a billboard to promote guns," he said.

Other parents thought the shirt was inappropriate. Carri Dively wasn't at practice when the jerseys were distributed, but said she's glad other parents have raised their concerns. Tom Rogroff said it would be different if the children were older; in adult leagues, players could have had a say in who sponsored the team.

Mr. Bruning told The Blade he just wanted to support his kids and the community. His children were excited when they got their jerseys, especially when they saw their father was the sponsor. He said he wasn't looking to make a political statement or change any minds about gun ownership.

"The money is for the kids," he said.

League officials said they don't discriminate against advertisers. The league needs businesses to help cover expenses and defray costs for some kids who can't afford to play without financial assistance, said Matt Wagenhauser, who handles sponsors and uniforms for 3B.

Mr. Wagenhauser said the league tries to have local businesses advertise and sponsor teams. That preference for keeping things local was what league officials had in mind when they approved Mr. Bruning's sponsorship.

"This is about kids," Mr. Wagenhauser said. "It's not a political message, it's not an insensitivity to what's going on in the world."

Besides, Mr. Wagenhauser said, guns and hunting are not exactly unpopular topics in southeast Michigan, where some schools excuse students for the start of hunting season.

League officials told parents they will pay to cover up "Todd's Guns" if they object, and Mr. Bruning said he's fine with that.

My suggestion? Charge parents who object the full cost - not just for the t-shirt, but for the entire program. If they don't want the t-shirt to mention a business that sells guns, they certainly shouldn't want to accept financial assistance that comes from the sale of guns, right?

[UPDATE May 3: An astute reader of our FaceBook page notes that while a few parents seem to have qualms about the words "Todd's Guns" on these shirts, they apparently aren't concerned at all about the sponsorship of Magdalena's Bar & Grill, a restaurant whose logo (which can be viewed on the Bedford's Best Baseball (3B) website in the top right ad under 3B Sponsors) features a character dressed in a sombrero, with a large margarita class in his hand, a bandolier across his chest and a large gun on his hip.]

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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