A nationwide sporting goods store closed its doors to a pair of politically charged events. A spokesperson with the National Rifle Association said they are up in arms after Gander Mountain canceled workshops at the stores in Rothschild and Eau Claire this week.
A politically charged election season is sure to cause some sparks. NRA spokesperson Stephanie Samford said this latest disagreement lit a fire under the group.
"Spirited races tend to bring out the best and worst in people and it's clear that Gander Mountain is hardly the profile of courage," said Samford.
Samford said the NRA planned two grassroots workshops this week at Gander Mountain -- one in Rothschild and the other in Eau Claire. Both would have focused on support for republican Governor Scott Walker. Samford said both wcanceledlled by Gander Mountain.
Newsline 9 tried to contact store leaders -- but after repeated attempts, never heard back. A post on the company's Facebook page said, "As the largest retailer [of] firearms in the country, Gander Mountain is a tireless supporter of the Second Amendment and has been a longtime partner of the NRA. However, the diversity of Gander Mountain customers and their varied interests prompted us recently to settle on a policy prohibiting hosting events on behalf of political causes or candidates."
Governor Walker stopped in Rhinelander on Thursday. He said he hadn't heard about the situation but he appreciates support from the hunting community.
"I just know I'm proud of the fact that law-abiding gun owners in this state, sports men and sports women overwhelmingly involved in groups like the National Rifle Association have strongly endorsed our campaign because of the good work we've done," said Walker.
Some in the community said this issue came up because of a series of complaints. Area democrats said they don't blame the business. Saying it's just that -- a business decision.
"I think they're listening to their customers and that's what good businesses do," said Marathon County democratic party chair Jeff Johnson. "In this case, there are democrats that hunt and there are republicans that hunt and that shop at Gander Mountain."
Samford said the NRA has held a number of events at Gander Mountain in the past -- at locations across the country. This week's events still went on -- but at different location. Tuesday's event was held at Cimino's Gun Archer inerin in Merrill. Wednesday's event was at the Plaza Hotel and Suites in Eau Claire.