Illinois State Rifle Association apologizes to Bill Kay Chevrolet for boycott call
The Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) is scrambling to make amends for telling its members not to patronize Bill Kay Chevrolet in Lisle based on a news report that a car wash fundraiser for gun control was going to be held behind the dealership.
The ISRA assumed that the description of the location of the car wash in a June 5 Naperville Sun article that said “behind” the dealership meant that Bill Kay was sponsoring the rally, and on June 9 sent out an “urgent alert” to its members to “vote with your feet – shop elsewhere.”
ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson later issued a correction, saying the “Bill Kay Auto group is no way involved in the car wash and gun owners should feel free to keep Bill Kay in mind when shopping for a new or used vehicle.” In another alert to ISRA members, he apologized to the dealership.
But the damage had been done. Bill Kay, who owns the Lisle location and five other dealerships in the western suburbs, said that there were so many negative comments, many of them on social media, that he couldn’t begin to quantify them.
“Out of the blue we started getting all these negative comments on dealer rating sites,” he said. “Some of them were really unsavory. I even got a text from a good friend of mine asking if it were true.”
Kay also said that he contacted the Chicago Tribune, owner of the Naperville Sun, about using the name of his dealership to describe the location of the car wash, but no one got back to him.
“I guess the press gets a free ride on this sort of thing,” he said.
The wording in the article was changed in a later edition with no mention of the Kay dealership in the description of the location of the car wash.
“In addition, West (Jax West, president of Friends Who March) is working with Downers Grove North students to co-sponsor a car wash with the Parkland students from noon to 3 p.m. June 16 in a neighborhood off Auvergne Avenue near Ogden Avenue and Interstate 355 in Lisle,” the later edition said.
As of this writing, negative comments about the Kay dealership were still online
“This is weird because I bought my truck from Bill Kay Ford and they're not even posted which I thought was a positive sign,” a member of IllinoisCarry.com wrote on the group’s blog site on June 10. “This is a shame. I guess I won't be going back.”
A separate pro-Second Amendment group, GunsSaveLife.com, posted a timeline of the events surrounding the ISRA actions and included a chastisement:
“Folks, this is not good. Any of us can make mistakes. Failing to at least do the most minimal of ‘trust but verify’ due diligence confirmation of stories before putting them out can have far-reaching consequences. Obviously, ISRA's leadership is learning.”