Phoenix Gun Store Owner Says Nazi Imagery in Logo Is an Accident

Strapt Armory's logo features an apparent reproduction of a Nazi-era imperial eagle. The owner says it wasn't intentional.
Strapt Armory's logo features an apparent reproduction of a Nazi-era imperial eagle. The owner says it wasn't intentional. Ray Stern
Strapt Armory, one of the newest gun stores in Phoenix, has an old image for its logo: An "imperial eagle" exactly like the one used by Nazi Germany until 1945.

The logo is an apparent reproduction of the Reichsadler, its talons holding the store's name instead of a wreath and swastika. A large, gold version is painted on the inside of the small shop's back wall. The image is also used on the company's website, Facebook page, and on the side of its building at 3602 East Indian School Road. The store opened in late February.

Asked about the resemblance on Tuesday, owner Charlie Bollenbaugh said he borrowed the eagle for his logo from the motorcycle shop of a friend in Phoenix. He says he heard from others that it's similar to a Nazi image but insists he never had any intention of putting up something Nazi-related.

"I'm definitely not a Nazi. I'm not a hater," Bollenbaugh told Phoenix New Times at his shop. "I'm anti-anything of that nature."

click to enlarge Images of the gun store's logo on the internet. - SCREENSHOT
Images of the gun store's logo on the internet.

He downplayed the connection at first, saying "an eagle is an eagle," and that people could make of it what they wanted. After being shown images of the Nazi Reichsadler on the internet, Bollenbaugh said he might change the logo.

Bollenbaugh said that no one should assume anything about him unless they knew him. He's a small businessman who owns several businesses, and he coaches local sports, he said. He welcomes people of color to Strapt Armory, he said, and indeed, three Black people were in the store checking out Glocks when New Times stopped by.

"The last thing I want to do is offend anybody," he said.

click to enlarge A Nazi passport with the eagle logo. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
A Nazi passport with the eagle logo.
Wikimedia Commons
The imperial eagle evolved from the standard of the ancient Roman army, the aquila. Germany's use of the coat of arms goes back centuries, and its current flag incorporates an eagle. The Nazi regime, however, often used a distinct, straight-winged eagle clutching a swastika, slapping it on passports and other materials from that era.

Last year, a German beer company launched by a former neo-Nazi politician used a version of the Third Reich's eagle with an Iron Cross in place of the swastika. German police investigated after complaints that it violated anti-Nazi laws, but officials deemed it legal.

Tammy Gillies, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, said her office had received three calls about the logo on Tuesday from the Phoenix area.

"People were passing by and were really shocked," she said. "They said, 'Do something about it.'"

Gillies, who's based in San Diego, said she was just drafting a letter to the store asking the owner to consider ditching the logo when New Times called.

"There's no question that this is the Nazi eagle and it's extremely offensive," Gillies said. "We don't know what his intention was."
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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern