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One Direction star Zayn Malik has sparked fury among U.S. anti-gun activists after having the image of a large pistol tattooed on the side of his body.

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The 20-year-old pop star went under the needle in Los Angeles on Thursday, and the artist behind the design, Louis F. Perez III, posted a picture of the singer's new body art on Instagram with the caption, "Made sure my homey was strapped." The image was removed hours later.

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The controversial tattoo has now caused a stir among anti-gun activists, who claim Malik is setting a bad example for his young fans.

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Ray Nelson, president of the Guitars Not Guns organization, tells Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper, "It is a shame that anyone would think it makes you look cool if you get a gun tattoo. Promoting guns in fashion could lead to gun violence and we certainly don't need any more of that."

Malik isn't the first singer to come under fire from anti-gun lobbyists. Rihanna previously attracted similar criticism in 2009 when she had a small gun inked just below her right armpit.