The Italian government is up in arms over an advertisement by a U.S. weapons firm, ArmaLite Inc., which shows Michelangelo’s iconic statue of David holding an AR-50A1 rifle with the tagline, "A Work of Art."

Dario Franceschini, Italy’s culture minister, urged the Illinois-based company to withdraw the advertisement after images promoting the $3,000 rifle appeared on several Italian media websites over the weekend. The statue of David, on display at the Accademia Gallery in Florence, is considered a masterpiece of the Renaissance and was created in the early 1500s.

According to BBC, Franceschini's translated tweet said: "The image of David, armed, offends and infringes the law. We will take action against the American company so that it immediately withdraws its campaign."

According to a local news agency, Cristina Acidini, the superintendent of the State Museums of Florence, said that the copyright for the image of David is owned by Italy and that it cannot be used without legal permission. She also reportedly issued a legal notice to ArmaLite to withdraw the image.

Angelo Tartuferi, director of the gallery, told Repubblica newspaper: "The law says that the aesthetic value of the work cannot be distorted,” and added: "In this case, not only is the choice in bad taste but also completely illegal."

According to The Guardian, Sergio Givone, Florence's Councillor of Culture, called the advertisement "an act of violence towards the sculpture; like taking a hammer to it and perhaps, actually, even worse.”

Here are comments by some Facebook users who wrote on the U.S. company’s page about the advertisement, which was originally published in May 2013 but caught the Italian media's attention over the weekend after it went viral among Italian social media users.

"Why don't you use your own bloody monuments work of art?" posted one person.

Another user wrote: "Art is untouchable and can't be use to spread death. If you want to enrich your wallets use your own monuments, you have many."

According to reports, ArmaLite is yet to comment about the controversy.