Santa and Machine Guns: In Arizona, Christmas Is Here Again

PHOTO: ABCs David Wright (back left) and producer Erin Keohane (front) hold AK-47s while posing with Santa for the Scottsdale Gun Clubs "Santa and Machine Guns" event.
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Nothing says Christmas like a family photo with Santa and an AK-47.

Arizona's Scottsdale Gun Club hosts what might be the oddest photo opportunity of the holiday season -- a family picture with jolly Ol' St. Nick and some high-powered firearms: AK-47s, grenade launchers and machine guns.

"People decide to celebrate the holidays in unique ways," said club spokesman Ron Kennedy. "Some choose to do it with Santa at the mall, others in front of their tree. Our members and customers like to do it with 'Santa and Machine Guns.'"

This was the second year of the club's "Santa and Machine Guns" event, and the line was wrapped around the block. This sort of violent Christmas fantasy costs $5 for club members, and $10 for nonmembers.

For the Rea family's photo with Santa, Mom and Dad proudly held machine guns. It was tough to say who was more excited for the photo -- the Rea kids, or their parents.

"It's a fact of life, there are guns everywhere, especially in Arizona," Glenn Rae said. "We thought it was a really neat thing to do, and fun."

"Our kids have never touched guns," he continued. "The little ones have never touched guns. Not until they are 5 years old and they can actually go through a gun safety class."

Santa's elves, who wore their own sidearms, made sure to give everyone a quick gun safety check before they took their Christmas photo: don't point a gun at anyone and keep your finger off the trigger.

"Let's talk about finger discipline and muzzle discipline," one elf said. "Remember which side you are on with Santa."

One important thing to note is while the guns were real, the weapons were not loaded and the firing pins were removed.

"These are decommissioned firearms and they have been cleared and safety checked," Kennedy said. "We are just trying to make a fun holiday-themed event for those who want to express their holiday spirit and their love for the shooting sports or the hobby of firearms."

When asked if he thought the "Peace on Earth" message clashed with the firearms Christmas photos, Kennedy said, "I think there are folks that see it in a different way."

But even in gun-totin' Arizona, "Santa and Machine Guns" didn't strike a happy chord with everyone.

"Heck of a way to celebrate the birth of our savior," said Arizona state representative Steve Farley. "To me, it is common sense that you don't joke around with guns."

But at the Scottsdale Gun Club, that opinion seems to be in the minority -- more like "Peace on Earth, and don't mess with Santa."

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