DARLINGTON COUNTY, S.C. – Since YETI Coolers cut ties with the National Rifle Association, there has been outcry on social media and talk of a boycott of the fashionable coolers.
One South Carolina man was so unhappy about YETI’s decision Monday that he got rid of his cooler – in spectacular fashion.
Bryan Atkinson filled his cooler with explosives, placed it in a field, then shot it with his AR-15 rifle. The huge explosion was captured on video, which the Hartsville man shared on Facebook.
The size of the explosion was apparent when looking at what was left of the popular brand of cooler.
Atkinson shared a picture of what he could find. The scrap was placed on a table with a “Don’t tread on me,” logo. It wasn’t a coincidence.
“I’m an outdoorsman,” Atkinson said. “I like to ride ATV s and have my YETI on the back of it to carry around cold beverages.
“But I’ve always been a proud supporter of my amendments and rights, and I always will be. I’m a gun owner and support Second Amendment rights.”
Atkinson said he was unhappy to see YETI walk away from the NRA.
YETI didn’t announce the decision publicly, and the news became public only after a letter about it was sent by the NRA to its members, ibtimes.com reported.
The NRA letter says “YETI has declined to do business with The NRA Foundation saying they no longer wish to be an NRA vendor, and refused to say why. They will only say they will no longer sell products to The NRA Foundation.”
Atkinson admitted that YETI products are very popular, and because of that he had wanted one. But YETI’s place as a status symbol didn’t spare it from Atkinson when the company crossed the NRA.
He filled it with a kit he legally purchased that included ammonia nitrate and aluminum powder, before placing the cooler in a 200-acre field.
“It was contained,” Atkinson said. “Nobody was around and nobody was harmed.”
Atkinson, and his friends who were watching, traveled a safe distance away from the cooler. He then took out his AR-15 and displayed his marksmanship by shooting the YETI with a bullet that combined with the chemicals to cause a significant explosion.
Using the AR-15 was no coincidence either. Atkinson said he specifically chose that weapon because of the controversy surrounding it in social media after it was used in a number of high-profile shootings.
“The AR didn’t shoot anyone. It didn’t shoot anyone,” said Atkinson, adding “I believe in my AR and I believe in the NRA. I don’t support anything that has lost their ‘oomph.’ ”
Since posting the video on Facebook shortly after noon, it has been viewed more than 16,000 times, while garnering thousands of combined reactions, comments and shares.
That reach included a reaction from the Hartsville Police Department, which said it had people reporting a loud boom that was discovered to have been caused by Atkinson.
“No laws were broken,” public information officer Lt. Mark Blair said, because of the precautions that Atkinson took, and because he shot the cooler outside of city limits. “The binary explosives are legal to have in the state, and there is no issue with him being in a field blowing things up. It was on private property and everybody is safe.”
The chemicals Atkinson used are not typically on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives List of Explosive Materials and do not meet the ATF’s definition of ”explosives,“ so they are not regulated, even when sold together in kits. They were also certified by the South Carolina Legislature.
Blair said the police would like to discourage people from blowing up their coolers. Instead, he offered anyone unhappy with YETI could donate the coolers or other products to the police.
“If you don’t want your coolers, we can take them,” Blair said. “We can use them to store cold water and sports drinks for our officers during the summer months.”
Atkinson, who said he stands behind the police “110 percent,” said he’s willing to donate coolers. But they won’t be YETIs.
“It’s YETI’s right to step away from the NRA. But it’s my right to step away from YETI,” Atkinson said.
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