From a distance, the “Crusader” looks like any other high-powered assault rifle.
But Spike’s Tactical, the gun’s Florida manufacturer, maintains this is no ordinary AR-15 semiautomatic weapon thanks to a new feature laser-etched on the side of each model: biblical scripture.
What’s the point?
“This ensures that no Muslim terrorist will ever pick up this weapon to use it to bring harm against another person,” Ben “Mookie” Thomas, a former Navy Seal and spokesman for Spike’s Tactical, says in a video posted on YouTube. “That’s actually my favorite part of the rifle.”
The verse, printed on the weapon’s magazine, comes from Psalm 144:
“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.”
In the promotional video, Thomas says he initially floated the idea for the gun when he was asked during a company meeting about a year ago to name some technical specifications he’d like to see on a rifle. Without hesitation, Thomas, who had just come from listening to hours of unspecified news programming, blurted out an answer.
“I want a rifle that no Muslim terrorist can use to murder innocent people,” he says. “I half expected to be fired or at least not taken serious, but they took the ball and they ran with it.”
The Crusader, which retails for $1,395, also features a shield with a cross on the left side of the weapon, according to the company. The gun features three settings on the safety selector: “Peace” for safe, “War” for semi-automatic, and “God wills it,” the company notes.
The gun went on sale earlier this month and was quickly criticized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Florida (CAIR-FL), according to the Orlando Sentinel. Hasan Shibly, executive director of CAIR-FL, told the paper that out of 205 mass killings so far this year in the U.S. only one involved a Muslim.
“Is it designed for Christian terrorists?” Shibly asked. “We need to have a conversation on gun violence. There has been utter silence from gun manufacturers. It’s time for them to stop trying to make a buck on this.”
Thomas told the Sentinel that America is threatened by Islamic terrorism and the weapon is a symbolic form of self-defense.
“Our goal is not to offend or alienate good people,” Thomas told the paper. “The difficult issues people have with each other need to be brought to the table. Often these are hurtful and painful but it’s important to be honest.”
In response, the CAIR-FL issued a second statement about the weapon:
“Sadly, this manufacturer’s fancy new gun won’t do anything to stop the real threat in America: the escalating problem of gun violence,” the statement said. “This is just another shameful marketing ploy intended to profit from the promotion of hatred, division, and violence.”
On its Web site, Spike’s Tactical refers to itself as a “family-owned business” that employs 40 people and was founded the day before 9/11 by Mike and Angela Register.
“Men like to accessorize their guns more than women like to accessorize their outfits,” chief executive Angela Register told the Sentinel.