Company’s rifle promotion generates controversy

POWELL — A Powell contractor’s promotion has generated some controversy. From now until the end of the year, Wiggins Construction is offering a free AR-15 rifle with every new home or commercial roof. 

Some people “are not happy about it. We’ve gotten some pretty hateful, vulgar comments,” said Matt Thomas, who does marketing for the company. 

Thomas said he got the idea reading about how many people are moving away from larger cities to this area, in some cases to escape regulations, high costs and a degradation in the quality of life. 

“They’re moving to a state that has freedoms … This is a welcome gift and a thank you for doing business with Wiggins Construction,” Thomas said. 

As soon as he posted the promotion to the company’s social media page, Thomas said, critical comments and calls came in. 

While there were people supportive of the giveaway, the post was shared across the country. He said he got calls from people in Illinois, California and New Hampshire. They left voicemails calling him a “baby killer” and demanding the company stop offering the free rifles. 

In defense of the promotion, Thomas said that Wyoming has more guns per capita than any state in the country. 

“Last time I checked, I think Wyoming’s the safest state in the United States to live in,” Thomas said. 

With a population spread out over a wide area, Thomas explained, response times for law enforcement can be longer, meaning people need a way to defend themselves. 

“Some people don’t see it quite how we do,” Thomas said of the critics. 

The company did consult with its lawyer to make sure they were conducting the promotion according to the law. Customers must provide proof they’re over 21 and that they’ve never been convicted of a felony. They also have to sign a form saying they’ll abide by all state and federal regulations. Before handing the weapons over, the company will log the gun’s serial number and sign it over to the customer with transfer of ownership documentation. 

“You can use this thing for hunting. You can use it for target practice, home defense. You can just hang it on your wall as a wall piece,” Thomas said. 

Thomas said the company had its busiest year in its history last year, and it’s currently booked out for two years on most of its work. Wiggins Construction took on the roofing promotion in order to book out that part of the business to the end of the year. 

The company was started nine years ago by Josh and Todd Wiggins, originally called Wiggins Fencing. They eventually added roofing and general contracting, and renamed the company Wiggins Construction.