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A couple of US RadioShack franchises are offering new subscribers to a satellite TV service a handy accessory should the quality of the service prove wanting - a free firearm.

Steve Strand, owner of a RadioShack outlet in Montana's Bitterroot Valley, says subscriptions to the Dish Network package have tripled since he started giving away pistols and shotguns last autumn.

He told Reuters the bulk of his new business is from women, quipping: "All I can tell you is, grandma is packing a gun in Montana."

Last week, fellow RadioShack franchisee John Marshall, of Mountain Home, Idaho, decided to gun for business by bundling Dish Network subs with "a coupon for $135 to purchase a single-shot shotgun at a local sporting goods store".

Marshall dismissed criticism by gun-control advocates. He insisted: "There's no problem with it here; this isn't New York City."

Strand agreed that it's perfectly reasonable to hand out firearms in Idaho and Montana. He said: "I might not even consider such a program if I were in Detroit city but we have a different demographic out here."

A RadioShack official has apparently "questioned the promotion", but the company hasn't told franchise holders to lay down their arms. ®

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