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Controversial NRA Ad Sparks Suncoast Reaction

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB)--A new advertisement from the National Rifle Association titled, "The Violence of Lies" is causing mixed reaction across the nation and locally for its flagrant language.

"They use their media to assassinate real news," is the opening sentence of the video.

Now, the words and images used in the ad have some people, such as Manatee County Democratic Party chair Sheryl Wilson, wondering if the organization has crossed a line.

"I thought there were elements of it that were chilling," Wilson said.

However, others like weapons instructor Chas Sizemore say the reaction is overblown.

"There was no call for violence in the ad, in any way. I couldn't even loosely interpret it that way," Sizemore said.

The one minute video is narrated by conservative radio host Dana Loesch. It has been shared nearly 50,000 times since the NRA posted it to it's Facebook page in June.

It condemns the actions of a group Loesch only refers to as "they."

"They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler," Loesch said in the video.

The video shows images of protesters in the streets while defending the actions of law enforcement.

"The only option left is for Police to do their jobs, and stop the madness," Loesch said in the video.

It ends with a message cloaked in symbolism.

"Fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth," Loesch said in the video.

To Wilson, the ending of the video was the most threatening part.

"It sounded like a call to arms. There's no reason to put a clenched fist and truth in the same thought," Wilson said. "The NRA is associated with the right to bear arms, and they seem to by the nature of the ad, introducing arms to the discussion when there is no need."

Sizemore is an NRA member and disagrees with that assessment.

"It was funny to me how people were getting outraged because they felt the video was specifically attacking a certain group, when all the video was showing what different groups have been doing," Sizemore said. "Antifa, Black Lives Matter. They have been getting out there, they have been rioting, they have been destroying property."

Neither group is called out by Loesch and it's difficult to tell if they're in any of the images, but Sizemore thought they got a clear nod in the video's now infamous tag line.

"People took that as a call to violence and a call to arms. A little hypocritical because what is the Black Lives Matter logo? It's a closed fist with the word 'resistance' below it," Sizemore said.

Bryan Ellis organizes local rallies with the group Answer Suncoast, he says the video mischaracterizes protesters. 

"The protests around the country are peaceful. The mass movements don't employ violence. So it's kind of a lie, they're turning it around," Ellis said.

He interprets the same message from the video as Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who tweeted, "I think the NRA is trying to shoot us."

"People should take up guns in order to defend themselves against left wing movements," Ellis said.

Local attorney Jeff Young says assertions like these are overblown. The video, he says, is like thousands of others the NRA produces for its online audience.

"The irony is that in this particular case, the extreme backlash against this add has really given it more exposure than it ever would have gotten if people would have just ignored it, and let it play out for the NRA members like they always do," Young said.

While the ad may not have any direct threats, it's also missing something else: any mention of second-amendment rights.

"It did seem to have a lot of information that didn't necessarily relate specifically to the second amendment and necessarily firearm rights," Young said. "But I think it was more of a response to the things they see going on these days."

The reason for putting out such a stern ad remains a shot in the dark, but the more pressing question for those opposed to the NRA is if it will put any of them in the crosshairs.