(Scripps Media) When a light-hearted internet joke ruffled the wrong feathers, a Tampa gunsmith found himself in the midst of an online controversy that has gone viral.

Tampa gun designer Mark Serbu is used to making a lot of noise, but an online adventure this week has his ears ringing:

“Why don’t you go kill yourself, or the world would be better off without you,” he remembered aloud from recent Facebook messages. “I mean — are you kidding me?”

Those were just some of the pointed posts and e-mails (a percentage he estimates to be less than 1% of the online correspondence he’s seen so far) after word of his refusal to sell a 50-caliber sniper rifle to a member of New York City’s SWAT team.

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