City codes tells Lakeland gun shop to remove sign thanking power crews

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Dan Derringer, who owns Derringer Firearms on East Gary Road, lost power for several days when Hurricane Irma blew through.

Right after his power was restored, Derringer put a sign in front of his business on the right of way. It said, "Thanks, Lakeland Electric."

"We thought it was only right that we support the people working for the power company that risk their lives on electric poles in the middle of the night in the rain, trying to get our power back on," Derringer told FOX 13.

It wasn't up for long. When a city codes enforcement officer saw the sign, he told Derringer to take it down because it violated the sign ordinance.

It was not Derringer's first run-in with code enforcement. Last year, after five officers were killed in Dallas as a result of street violence, Derringer posted a sign that said, "We support law enforcement."

That one didn't meet the city's specifications and had to be taken down, as well.

He also hung an American flag, but he had to remove that one, as well.

"When we have soldiers dying overseas every day. It just doesn't make sense that we wouldn't support that," he said.

City of Lakeland spokesman Kevin Cook said the content of a sign has nothing to do with whether or not it can stay or has to go.

"The sign ordinance is content neutral," said Cook. "We don't judge on content."

Cook says signs are not allowed on the right of way. He also says there size and other requirements. So he says it is a pretty cut and dry decision.

"You can't really have favoritism," he said. "You have to treat everyone equally."