Car Buyers Pick Their Poison: Free Gun or Free Gas

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With Detroit increasingly desperate to unload inventory, one Missouri car dealership seems to have struck gold with a special promotion: Buyers get a $250 coupon towards either a gun or gasoline. The offer comes from Max Motors, a small dealership south of Kansas City that has slapped the image of a grimacing cowboy wielding two pistols all over its website.

Max Motors owner Mark Muller claims sales have quadrupled since the offer took effect. But in this case, the high price of gas seems not to be influencing consumers' decisions. Most takers are opting to pack heat, reports Reuters:

Every buyer so far "except one guy from Canada and one old guy" has elected to take the gun, Muller said. Muller recommends his customers select a Kel-Tec .380 pistol. "It's a nice little handgun that fits in your pocket," he said.

When asked by the bloggers at Wheels why drivers choose guns over gas, Freakonomics co-author Stephen J. Dubner explained that most consumers prefer their prizes to come in the form of an optional purchase -- the gun -- rather than a necessary purchase -- the gas. "For many coffee-drinking New Yorkers, an equivalent may be the choice between $250 grocery money and an espresso machine," the blog says.

Of course, the analogy doesn't run very deep. According to the Centers for Disease Control, guns were responsible for 30,694 deaths in 2005, and motor vehicles caused 45,520. You can say this for the latte-sipping elite -- the CDC reported no deaths by espresso.