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Maine man posts ‘Black Rifles Matter’ sign. Controversy ensues.

A pro-gun sign in Maine that plays on the motto of the Black Lives Matter movement has proved a target for controversy.Courtesy of Linc Sample

The sign appeared in midsummer in the heavily touristed town of Boothbay Harbor, bearing a bold outline of a long-gun and the aggressive slogan “Black Rifles Matter, Yes we have ’em, No you can’t take ’em.”

The pro-gun play on the motto of the Black Lives Matter movement has proved a target for controversy, drawing complaints, competing signs, and — this week — national news coverage. It has also focused an unusual amount of local attention on the yard of resident Linc Sample.

“My personal feelings aside, the sign is not in violation of any town ordinances that I know of and it is protected by the First Amendment as an expression of political opinion,” said Rick Prose, executive director of the Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce.


Prose said he has received a handful of complaints from tourists and residents about the sign.

“These folks expressed everything from mild concern about how unwelcoming it makes our community seem to them, to one family who expressed that they were cutting their vacation in our region short because of the sign,” Prose said.

He said he tried to assure residents that the sign “was one person’s opinion and not necessarily indicative of the attitudes of most people here,” though he has also received three phone calls and one e-mail from people wanting to visit because they agree with the sign.

Sample was not available for comment Tuesday, but his next-door neighbor Bob Hilscher said this is not the first political placard he has displayed.

“He’s had many signs over the years,” Hilscher said. “This one’s just gained more attention than most.”

Hilscher, 47, said the sign has been up for about six weeks.

“It’s properly permitted, and I believe in freedom of speech, I guess,” he said. “I may not agree with what it says.”


Sample initially posted an image of the sign without the words “Black Rifles Matter” on his Facebook page in July, saying that he had “had enough of the this ‘assault weapon’ nonsense.”

On Aug. 10 Sample posted an image of the sign on his Facebook page that included the words “Black Rifles Matter.” The post said someone had placed a Black Lives Matter sign in his yard.

Sample posted again that same day to say he crossed out the message and wrote “All Lives Matter.”

Olivia Quintana can be reached at olivia.quintana@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @oliviasquintana. Samantha J. Gross can be reached at samantha.gross@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @SamanthaJGross.