Italian Media Upset with Armalite

The Italian Media are upset that Armalite used a photo of Michelangelo’s David in an advertisement for their AR-50A1 .50 BMG rifle. The UK Guardian newspaper, with all the hyperbole they could muster, likened this a worse affront that when the statue was vandalized with a hammer. The city of Florence has told the company to remove the advertisement because it is in violation of an Italian law.


I love the ad. It looks fantastic.  Nobody seems upset, or notices the irony, that David was a Israeli king, nor are they upset about the Ancient Egyptian Obelisk, built by Ramses II and taken by the Romans, is a mere two 2 km down the road from Michelangelo’s David.

Guns generally offend the media worldwide regardless of the context. Maybe our Italian readers can tell us if it actually offends them.

Many thanks to Cornelius for the tip.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Jake

    I’m not Italian, but I’ve eaten pizza before… so I feel qualified to say it isn’t offensive.

    • Pizza was invented in the USA 🙂

      • floppyscience

        Pizza was invented by the Greeks, refined by the Italians and made popular by the Americans. It was a joint effort.

        • My google-fu says ‘Merica.

          • Giolli Joker
          • allannon

            Your google-fu is weak, as a search for “who invented pizza” leads with an article indicating modern pizza was created in Campania, Italy in 1889.

          • FourString


          • 1911a145acp

            You guys crack me up!!!

      • Giolli Joker

        Now this IS offensive! 😛
        Pizza was invented in Naples, Italy.
        It’s true that many Mediterranean cultures (including Egyptians, Lebanese…) have had for centuries delicacies somehow similar to pizza; but what is known as pizza (and the name itself) comes from Naples.
        USA just made the crappy fast food versions…

        • Alter_Ego

          Bloody hell, we must have been departed at bith (free translation lf an Italian say)!

        • floppyscience

          Greeks were the first to bake flatbreads and put toppings on them. The first true modern pizza (with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil) was created in Italy in the late 1800s. Until that Italians (and lots of cultures in that region) ate what the Greeks invented in ancient times under various names. Yes, the name “pizza” which eventually stuck as the most popular came from Naples. I guess it all depends on how you defined “invented”.

        • Claudio

          well said! Pizza is Italian.

      • Alter_Ego

        Now THIS is offensive! 🙂 Pizza is the italianization of the word Pita, which is a traditional Greek round bread you’ll find all around the Mediterranean. Pizza is the Italian way to do it.

      • Eddie_Baby

        Wherever it came from, Italy has some damn good pizza.

        • Pizza Joint in Portland, Maine, is the best. Just sayin’.

    • 1911a145acp

      I’m not Italian, but I ate Torta Rustica at a Holiday Inn Express last night- therefore I’m imminently MORE qualified to say that it isn’t offensive

  • MichaelBolton

    Firearms + Media = Massive butthurt

    Also known as Washington’s First Law of Freedom.

  • ColaBox

    No its not offensive, as a full blood, let me add that this is great, and I wish there was more like this.
    P.S. the word “offensive” is a cop out used by liberals to derail from the fact they lack a spine.

    • Sulaco

      Actually “offensive” is used to try to shut up the public about anything the media don’t like. I find the media ultimately offensive.

    • Reco

      “Firearms not politics”

  • Rokurota

    David was not only an Israeli king, but the warrior king. Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath makes the point that David used ballistic superiority to beat Goliath — basically, he brought a ranged weapon to a melee fight — and prevailed. He would have approved of the .50 BMG.

    • Michael Bergeron

      Yeah I’m 99.99999999…% sure that David would have readily grabbed one of these to face off with Goliath had they been around.

    • M.M.D.C.

      “David used ballistic superiority to beat Goliath”
      Yes, and then used Goliath’s own sword against him: “So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.”

      It was a big sword, too!

      • Anon. E Maus

        Yeah, David was the coolest guy in that book!

  • bbmg

    Completely fabricated outrage. Why aren’t they upset about this? – this is just one example, there are countless others where the image of the David is denigrated.

    Also, David’s main claim to fame as a youth is slaying Goliath with a *BOOM* Headshot! from his sling – he would have loved to have an Armalite to be able to do it from several hundreds of metres away!

  • wetcorps

    I’m not Italian but I don’t see how it is more offensive than the use of any well known piece of art in an ad, or anywhere else.
    What is this law he talks about? I’d like to have more info about it because I don’t quite get what is the problem here and how a related law could already exist.

    I remember an add from a few years ago which used the David as well, did they dislike it too? And was it covered by this law?

    As for the ad in itslef, I find it rather clumsy. The photoshoping isn’t very good (look at his left hand…), and why did they bother adding the leaf? Fearing the “overcompensating” jokes? 😀 In this case they should have used a different statue, because it jumps to mind (or maybe my mind is twisted).
    Also, one could make links with David’s story but it doesn’t seem to be on purpose and doesn’t add up very well, since David wasn’t a warrior and didn’t need a sniper rifle to do the job.
    The slogan is rather weak since it doesn’t cover all the things the image implies.

    Also, I’m not sure about calling this purely functional ugly beast of a rifle “art”. But that’s subjective I suppose ^^

  • schizuki

    Now, when an “artist” smears a depiction of the Virgin Mary with feces, that’s “daring” and “provocative” and you’d be a barbaric philistine for objecting.

  • Marc

    “The image of David, armed, offends […]”

    Better whip out your chisel because that thing the original statue has on its shoulder is the sling David used to defeat Goliath, after which David beheaded him. Still offended?

    • Juice

      We need to ban tactical assault slings!

    • Eddie_Baby

      If someone is not familiar with David, it’s not obvious that he’s armed, but an Italian should know better.

    • Michel_T

      1) it must be a slow news day in Italy…
      2) it’s a good diversion from their ‘other’ more important political issues… you, like corruption…

  • 101nomad

    By liberal standards, the rifle is being used to compensate for his small penis. I don’t know, they just seem to be hung up on things like that.

    • DerDer

      I like to respond to the with a bit of Freud “A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity.”

  • doug

    I’m not only NOT offended by the gun at all, but I’d like to see if the concussion would blow the fig leaf off this “offensive” statue and I would appreciate it if the “offended idiot” would hold my target for me at 1000 yds !!!!

  • MKV

    It’s not offensive, just tacky and banal.

  • Esh325

    Offensive? I don’t know. Stupid? Most certainly.

  • It’s only offensive if the media deems it so. We all know they are never BIASED.

    • Eric S

      I don’t think it’s a matter of bias, so much as ‘can we generate views.’ And guns, drugs, and cute things generate views.

  • John Dalton

    I don’t find it offensive. It is tasteless and would not make me want to buy the gun but that’s just bad advertising, not illegal.

  • Jacqueshacques

    The original doesn’t have some cop-out fig leaf, either.

  • nester7929

    Does anyone even read the Bible? Do these idiots even realize how many battles King David personally fought in? He’d have loved to have an Armalite by his side.

    Even if it wasn’t the case, who cares? It’s art, but at the end of the day it’s a shaped rock. Why is it considered sacrilege?

    • suchumski

      King David would have loved the Gun and hated the Idol.

      Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

  • john huscio

    Can someone tell me how an american company is subject to Italian law? I mean its pretty wacky that they think what they think of an ad carries any weight with armalite whatsoever.

    • Giolli Joker

      Especially considering they aren’t marketing in Italy were 50 BMG is forbidden.
      However, IF there’s really an international copyright covering the use of David’s image, it’s not the Italian law that makes the difference…

  • Nishi Drew

    I’d be upset too… with how bad and “unartistic” of a photoshop job that poster is

  • Masterduck

    I wonder would it be any difference is the company is question was say …. berretta

    • Anonymoose

      Then it would probably be some fancy, engraved OU shotgun that costs 20 grand (which is only “offensive” to PETA and other anti-hunting hippies) instead of an OMGBLACKSCARRYSALTSNYPUHWAFFLE that “scares” the whole anti-gunner community.

  • iksnilol

    I don’t find it offensive but comparing a MBR(modern black rifle) to a work of art is silly – aestheticaly.

  • Giolli Joker

    I’m Italian.
    I read about this here before, then I searched it in the Italian media…
    It seems that the newly appointed Italian Minister of Arts tweeted (BTW, I’m younger than him but I find this official use of social media really childish) about this “scandal”… right before ending up on a hospital bed because of heart attack (he’s now ok, but I’ll avoid being overly aggressive towards him because of his current health status).
    Main concern other than the fact that David is shown armed (yep, because the giant slayer’s slingshot is a toy…) is the fact that Armalite haven’t asked for the permission (i.e. they didn’t pay) to use the (seemingly copyrighted) image of the statue.
    Therefore, according to him, this use of the David is illegal…
    Of course the “piece of… news” reached the Italian media but I haven’t seen much of an outcry.
    I wonder however what it would have been the reaction if Cattelan ( ) had created something similar…
    Personally I’m not offended at all (but I even like the picture of Jesus carrying a Barrett, maybe it’s just me) although I can’t call this picture fantastic because the quality of the photoshop isn’t the best and, as said by others, the AR-50 doesn’t really look that artistic, there are much “sexier” rifles out there.

    I can’t wait to see Scrap Yard Knives advertising one of their new knives in the hand of Donatello’s David.

    On the TFB article, I really fail to see any connection or irony between two completely unrelated pieces of art in Florence, separated by 3000 (3 thousand) years. Is it because in the 20th century Israel and Egypt have been fighting each other? So what?

    • Manny Fresco

      I believe the irony is due to the biblical story of Moses liberating his people from Egypt. With Italy being predominantly Catholic, one would think that they would know this story, and yet have allowed the Egyptian obelisk, an icon of the same Egyptian civilization that had enslaved Jesus’ ancestors, to remain in place

      • Giolli Joker

        Might be, but that obelisk has been brought in Italy by a neither Christian nor Jew government, about 1400 years before Michelangelo sculpted the David…
        there’s really no connection nor irony.
        Just two masterfully carved pieces of stone.

  • Alter_Ego

    I’m Italian, I don’t think is offensive. It’s not particularly original or appealing either, but cheesy. Anyway it’s a success as we are talkinga bout it.

  • Luigi Clerici

    I’m italian, I’m not offended, but it seems that there is a copyright on the sculpture, for this reason it cannot be used without an authorization.

  • MANG

    Real talk, this is way less culturally imperialistic than everything else this sculpture has been used to represent. Is this a pure and innocent figure that is suddenly being sullied by a mean old gun company? Or has this image been used for hundreds of years to promote Roman whiteness as a standard of beauty and intellectual supremacy? This doesn’t even blip on the chart of “heinous uses of famous artwork.”

    • Giolli Joker

      “Or has this image been used for hundreds of years to promote Roman whiteness as a standard of beauty and intellectual supremacy?”
      What history books have you studied on?

    • DaveP.

      You lost at “culturally imperialistic”.

  • Simone Mattioli

    I’m italian and i’m absolutely not offended by this.
    I think that the people offended by this take themselves too seriously, and i can’t stand that kind of people.
    When i read the newspaper about this i looked forward to this arcticle to see what you thought about, onestly i don’t think there is a way to ban this ad outside Italy, and even here it would be a nonsense.
    Also the rifle looks great.

  • Mike

    A pox on Italy. These are the same idiots who loved Mussolini. They do not “own” Michelangelo’s David, they are only caretakers. I don’t think Armalite’s ad is particularly good, but I like it more now that the Italian fascists hate it.

    • Dropship Ace

      Sweet Jesus come join the rest of us in 2014, must be pretty boring being trapped in the 1940s.

    • Phil Hsueh

      Not that it’s all that relevant to this discussion but I don’t think that the Italians love Il Duce all that much, certainly not as much as the average German of the time loved Hitler. After all, by the time we invaded Italy their military was, for the most part, more than happy to surrender, and when Mussolini was eventually executed after returning to Italy his body was kicked, spat on, stoned, and otherwise ridiculed. So, not much love there.

      • Claudio

        Italians loved Mussolini until the tragic effect of war on the population began to produce its effects, bombing, rationing of food. The Allied landing in Sicily gave the coup de grace to the fascist regime.

  • Blake

    The Streisand Effect strikes again!

    ArmaLite should write Italy’s culture minister a thank-you note for drawing so much attention to their product &ltgrin&gt

  • Italian here. No, i haven’t heard of any media uproar. Franceschini is from PD, more or less the same as US Democrats (including a vague anti-gun sentiment, but nothing like moms take action or stuff like that) and current “historical heritage, cultural activities and tourism” minister. So yeah, maybe the ad may look bad to some of the most sensible ones, but for me is not a problem, except that fig leaf, that’s added for the same reason you have canola oil. You and your pruderie! ;D

    May i suggest using the Bronzi of Riace next time? They represent warriors and were originally carrying spears, so it wouldn’t be hard to shop rifles in.

    • Dropship Ace

      Wait, explain the canola thing. You lost me.

      • justdroppingin

        Canola oil = rapeseed oil. Maybe that’s it?

        • Giolli Joker

          You’re probably right, thanks for the explanation!

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      heh, yea, I thought the fig leaf was pretty silly. They could have hidden the statues junk with the stock.

  • ktr

    Make this on your statue of Liberty!!! Or even better on some russian statue. Let’s see….

  • derfelcadarn

    No one seems to be concerned that David is a poor role model in any age. His interactions with Bathseba and Uriah are only the tip of a very dirty iceberg. He examplifies many qualties that honorable people would be best not emulate. History has already buffed a very tarnished and rough reputation, the rifle can only be a plus.

  • Dropship Ace

    Hehe, Liberal Tears.

  • avconsumer2

    MMMmmm… tasty tasty media tears. Breakfast of champions.

  • Ken

    Let’s not forget that an Italian court convicted six scientists and a government official of manslaughter and sentenced them to six years in prison all because they couldn’t predict an earthquake.

    • Alter_Ego

      Now, I’m Italian and what Ken describes is as true as shameful! That’s something I’m offended by, and not by Ken but by the ridiculous sentence.

  • Ken

    Also, they’ll be about as successful extraditing the guys at Armalite as they are in getting Amanda Knox back.

  • Dave The Great


    The writer mentions an obelisk, with absolutely no explanation. It’s not in the photo, not mentioned in the controversy, just … a random outburst.

  • guest

    Eyyy ohhhh whachu talkin bout take it easy!

  • bfmusashi

    The scaling of objects in the picture annoys me the most.

    • 1911a145acp


  • Mike

    My post got deleted. My response:

    so 20,000 Americans died defeating the Fascists in Italy, and all the
    dopes at FireArmBlog can do is delete my post, because it might offend
    some Italians who provide hits to their website. I’m sure glad that
    these goofballs care more about internet revenue than about the men who
    died defending this country and defeating the monstrous regimes.

  • elleerre

    Pompeii LITERALLY falls apart and Mr.Franceschini has time to spend with this bullshit.

    Well done, Dario.

  • n0truscotsman

    Can your society really be that pathetic that you get squeamish when one of your pieces of art is photoshopped by a gun by an american company?

    what happened to the descendants of the praetorians and legionnaires? did they go extinct?

    but then again, its probably being exacerbated by the British, not the Italians, whom had a great culture of warfighters too once upon a time (with a few notable exceptions that are as rare as hens teeth).

    They do realize the history behind “david” right?

    • Claudio

      This controversy should not be used to judge the Italian society as a whole. The Italian left, as American liberals, considers firearms like the devil. They would have turned the Beretta, a company of organic food.

      • n0truscotsman

        Exactly and I tried to not make generalizations and may have came off with one.

        Like most europeans, many aren’t even given a chance before they’re indoctrinated and brain washed with this pacifist, one world, globalism bullshit (and this is coming from someone that leans slightly left!). Similar to some regions in the United States.

        What is even funnier (perhaps sadder) is that this special group of dolts actually believes their way of thinking is spreading and advancing. It isn’t. It is certainly not gaining traction in emerging powers of the world: Russia, China, Brazil, Turkey, etc.

  • Lou

    They have nothing to be offended for. If anyone has cause to be offended, it is David: who wants to be portrayed naked and displayed in public. Who gave Michelangelo the right to portray David this way. David sure did not. We have more right to be offended for David, than the Italians do for Michelangelo.

  • Claudio

    I believe that the majority of Italians do not care about this, it’s just an American advertising. The works of art have been used millions of times for advertising. Our minister of culture has nothing better to do than waste time with this absurdities? There have been collapses in Pompeii, he should worry about this! The usual leftists, liberals!

  • 1911a145acp

    Sadly, we live in the upside down world of the “I choose to be offended using my intellectually dishonest liberal left wing double standard cognitive dissonance type person”
    The same people who would rush to the defense of a crucifix upside down in a jar of urine as “Art” are all suddenly offended by this clever ad campaign which really desires nothing more than to bring attention to it’s Firearm’s related product. Which it has…successfully, because we are all sitting here pounding the keyboards over it.

  • pat

    They should read ‘The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini’. The Italian Renaissance was a time of much street violence. The domestic architecture reflects that.

    • Claudio

      At that time there was violence in the whole of Europe. However the Italian Renaissance marks the birth of Humanism, which focuses on the dignity of human beings, on the great confidence in human intelligence. The architecture of the Renaissance focuses on the rediscovery of the classical era, what has to do with violence?

  • Florence is Fun

    The real story is typical Italian politics…..someone did not get paid off!!

    I think if Armalite had made the rifle look like marble that would have been classy. But having dealt with Armalite several times “classy” is the last word I’d use to describe them.

  • Andrea Effe

    Welcome to Italy. A country with no right to keep and bear arms, tight firearms legislation, only 20.000 carry permits (may issue, very strict policy) in a population of 60 million.
    Every time You talk about firearms here You cause a mess, every time the media go on the subject You only get biased talk, wrong information and of course anti-gun misinformed blabber.

    I’m embarassed by this matter (though there is an Italian law that prohibits to use works of art for commercial purposes without written consent by the authorities), I’d only wish I was born in Nevada and not in this damn country where freedom is just a word and the right to self-defense exists only on paper.

  • So the Italians are upset that a US company stole an image of David for an ad? The Italians, who stole the entire Greek pantheon? The Italians, who stole the image of David, a Jewish hero?

    • Guest

      Italians stole the Parthenon? the British stole the marbles of the Parthenon, the famous Elgin marbles.

      • Claudio

        Pantheon, not the Parthenon.

      • Not the Parthenon, the pantheon. The Greek gods. Lol. As for the Brits, they had the stones to steal the marbles!?

        • Claudio

          If you’re referring to the ancient Romans, we can not speak of stealing, but of cultural assimilation and in any case in southern Italy, long before the birth of Rome, there were Greek colonies, which had this pantheon. The Greeks brought their gods in Italy.

          • And now ATI has assimilated Michaelangelo’s David.

          • Claudio

            Yes, ATI has assimilated Michaelangelo’s David, but maybe it has infringed the copyright!

          • Yes, Rome assimilated the Greek Pantheon, but maybe it has infringed the copyright! Quod erat demonstrandum. I shall tell my Greek friends they should sue. You tell Italia, too! We will all meet at the Hague!

          • Claudio

            we will meet at the Hague, at the International Court of Justice? Ok for Italy there will be Gaius Julius Caesar.

  • David

    Typical Ferrari pit stop. They seem to have a genetic desire to create events to be able to use lots of hand signals and thousands of people more than are required. But everybody gets to speak their piece anyhow, usually all at the same time. At least, thanks to the Yanks and Brits, this complaint by the Italians was written in Italian, not German.