Michael Cargill, the owner of Austin's Central Texas Gun Works, told us that he kicked off the deal on Tuesday and that it was intended to terminate Saturday night or when 600 people purchased it, whichever came first. He adds that due to runaway demand, his Groupon representative called the next day to increase the purchase limit to 1,500 buyers. But on Friday morning, the rep called again with bad news.
"He said the CEO of the company decided that he's not going to do any more gun-related deals," recounts Cargill, whom we profiled on Aol Jobs last week as part of our Guns in America series.
Groupon confirmed that gun deals have been put on hold until further notice, though it did not provide any insight on the role that CEO Andrew Mason played in canceling the deal.
"All scheduled and current gun-related deals featured on Groupon North America, including shooting ranges, conceal-and-carry and clay shooting, have been placed on hiatus while we review internal standards that shape the deal inventory we feature," said Groupon spokeswoman Julie Mossler in an emailed statement. "The category is under review following recent consumer and merchant feedback."
The abrupt shift is obviously due to the renewed gun debate following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut -- though it's less clear why the company is just now reevaluating its policy toward gun-related deals, more than a month after the shooting.
What is clear is that the decision to yank the deal before it was finished has Cargill hot under the collar. While he says he's retained a lawyer and is still evaluating his legal options, in the meantime he's trying to hit the company by encouraging gun lovers to boycott the site.
"I'm asking everyone in the Second Amendment community to boycott Groupon, because the message they're sending is, 'Look, we do not want to support law-abiding citizens taking time out of their schedule to learn the safety surrounding firearms,' " says Cargill. The class covers curriculum required to obtain a concealed-carry permit in Texas, including live-fire training, nonviolent conflict resolution and safety training.
News of the boycott has already started spreading on gun forums and in local news, and he says he's received more than a hundred emails expressing support.
As for customers who wanted to take the discounted class, there's good news: Cargill says he will honor any Groupon purchased before the deal was canceled, and those who missed out can take the class at the discounted rate until further notice.
Read more in AOL's special series, Guns in America:
Confessions of a Gun Shop Owner
Idaho Planned Community Would Require Everyone to Bear Arms
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.