CINCINNATI — "The NRA is a terrorist organization.”
Mad Dog PAC, a Maryland-based political action committee, paid to put messages like this one on billboards all over the country, including over northbound Interstate 75 in Middletown. Their installations, which include an "Impeachment Now" sign near President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and 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.
PAC chair Claude Taylor said the messages are as severe as they need to be.
"We think the NRA is acting very much like a terrorist organization," he said. "We are very suspicious of some of their Russian funding. … The situation with the NRA has just gotten beyond control."
He and other members, he said, hope public outcry can convince legislators to spurn donations from the gun advocacy organization, which also has a recent history of provocative rhetoric, and enact "common-sense" restrictions of gun sales in the United States.
The restrictions for which Taylor 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.
"I am for the First Amendment and freedom of speech," he said.
That's why he intends to use it to make another argument: "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."
Like any political action committee, Mad Dog PAC uses donations to fund its displays of outreach and activism. "Billboard of Freedom" advocates such as Mikesell plan to do the same thing.
Trenton resident Dan Jones created a GoFundMe to raise $10,000 for a "pro gun message to upset liberals" and "take action against the Mad Dog PAC funded by George Soros!"
The campaign had raised $400 by Friday night; Mikesell said he hoped to get the pro-gun billboard up by the end of the month.