SC newspaper apologizes for placing gun ad above article on Charleston shooting

Reuters / Jim Young
A newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina has apologized for running a gun ad above a banner headline about the shooting at a historical church in the city that killed nine people and launched a manhunt.

“Church attack kills 9,” the Charleston Post and Courier headline reads. Above it, a sticker advertises a gun range.

Screenshot from facebook.com/ThePostandCourier

“The front-page sticky note that was attached to some home delivery newspapers on the same day as this tragedy is a deeply regrettable coincidence. We apologize to those who were offended,” the newspaper wrote in a reply to a Facebook comment.

READ MORE: S. Carolina church shooting suspect arrested; identified as Dylann Storm Roof, 21

The ad for ATP Gunshop & Range promoted the store’s weekly ladies’ night event, which runs every Thursday.

“Have you ever wanted to learn to shoot for fun, sport, or self-defense, but felt intimidated by guns or the guys? Then you need to sign up for one of our Ladies' Night Shoots,” the store says on its website. “You will leave the experience feeling better about your newly acquired knowledge and newfound sense of self-empowerment.”

Posted by ATP GunShop & Range on Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The event costs $30, which covers the range fee, ammunition and a souvenir T-shirt, as well as guidance and encouragement by female instructors.

“It was just unfortunate timing. The ad had already been scheduled,” an advertising department manager at the Post and Courier who didn’t wish to be named told blogger Jim Romenesko. When asked why the ad person who scheduled the ad didn’t alert the press room after hearing about the shootings, she told Romenesko that she didn’t know.

Romenesko pointed out that a similar ads have been placed next to stories about shootings before. In May, a sticker ad for a gun range was placed above a Florida Times-Union story about a school bus shooting in Duval County, Florida. In Connecticut, the Stamford Advocate ran an ad for a gun show next to a story about the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in January 2013.

The furor over the Post and Courier ad began when Jonathan Neufeld, a philosophy professor at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina, tweeted a photo of the offending ad over the headline.

“The paper's front page is a jarring reminder of the dual role of firearms in American public life,” Christopher Ingraham wrote on the Washington Post’s Wonkblog. “On the one hand they are implements of murder, contributing to one of the highest firearm homicide rates among the world's wealthy nations. On the other, they're a source of entertainment, sport and self-defense for millions of Americans.”

“But rarely do you see those two roles juxtaposed as starkly as they are here,” he added.