By Hannah Curran, Editor
ONEONTA — Nathan Kirk, the owner of Blount County Tactical, a gun store in Oneonta, is allowed to keep his personalized tag that was originally recalled for “objectionable language.”
Kirk purchased a new vehicle in October 2021 and decided to personalize his tag for the vehicle. Kirk chose the “Don’t Tread on Me” distinctive tag with the personalized letters “LGBF JB.”
Kirk received a letter from the Alabama Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division in February 2022 stating that his license plate “contains objectionable language which is considered by the Department to be offensive to the peace and dignity of the State of Alabama. Registration for this personalized license plate message will not be issued/renewed.”
The letter stated that he needed to return the license plate in 10 days or his vehicle registration would be revoked. A fine would be issued to Kirk for “$500 for the first offense and $1,000 for the second or subsequent offense.” Kirk said if his vehicle registration is invalid, it could lead to his truck being impounded.
Kirk said that recalling his license plate is “stepping on his freedom.”
“I didn’t have an appeal process or something like that, I never did that, I didn’t have an attorney reach out,” Kirk said. “The response went everywhere. I don’t even know who all posted it, but it was posted in probably every state and almost every newspaper, and Ben Shapiro, Crowder, it just went crazy, Newsmax with Greg Kelly, and OAN News Live. So I think that had a lot to do with it.”
Kirk explained that Sheriff David Clarke reached out and tagged Governor Kay Ivey in a post that stated she needed to fix it. Kirk said that he believes these comments and posts “lit a fire under whoever was making a decision.”
“The whole state probably wasn’t behind this, I think it was just a couple people got their feelings hurt at the state, and then maybe more influential people there got involved,” Kirk said.
Kirk said that the tag is just a tag, but feeling like he was silenced or feeling like he was only “messed with” because of his opinion caused Kirk to reach out to the public.
People heard his story and began threatening his family, but Kirk said the overwhelming response was positive.
“We’ve had crazies that have threatened us and stuff like that, and left, bad reviews for my wife’s hair salon, and all kinds of other things, from places like New Hampshire and stuff like that,” Kirk said.
Kirk said this isn’t the first time he felt like his first amendment rights were being suppressed.
“I get blocked on Facebook almost every other day for sharing my firearms store,” Kirk said. “Facebook’s community guidelines say that a brick and mortar which we are a brick and mortar firearm store can post firearms for sale. It’s different than a person or something like that, of course, you can’t sell them on marketplace or anything, but we can have a page advertising what we sell in the store.”
Kirk said that Facebook doesn’t follow its own rules, and he said there’s a motive for that.
“The motive is they don’t agree with me, just like everybody else, leaving bad reviews when they’ve never been in my store,” Kirk said. “They want to punish somebody for thinking differently than them. It’s been really difficult with Facebook since this, they’ve blocked every one of my profiles, I’ve had to make different profiles because they keep doing this.”