More than a decade ago, AFJ’s First Monday video, Deadly Business, documented the insidious means used by the gun industry to market its product – including marketing to children:
Now The New York Times has updated the story, with a comprehensive account of those efforts – including efforts to market semiautomatic weapons like the Bushmaster AR-15. That’s the civilian version of the army’s M-16. It’s also the one used in the Newtown massacre, among others. It’s also one of the weapons Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has proposed banning.
According to the Times, the industry’s marketing efforts have taken on a new urgency, as the percentage of licensed hunters declines. Like the tobacco industry, the gun industry understands that, in the words of one industry publication, “the need for aggressive recruitment is urgent.” So the industry tries to, as one study recommends, “start them young.”
According to the Times:
The pages of Junior Shooters, an industry-supported magazine that seeks to get children involved in the recreational use of firearms, once featured a smiling 15-year-old girl clutching a semiautomatic rifle. At the end of an accompanying article that extolled target shooting with a Bushmaster AR-15 — an advertisement elsewhere in the magazine directed readers to a coupon for buying one — the author encouraged youngsters to share the article with a parent.
“Who knows?” it said. “Maybe you’ll find a Bushmaster AR-15 under your tree some frosty Christmas morning!” …
Two other items in the Times story were notable:
● Apologists for the gun industry want to divert the discussion to possible causes of gun violence other than guns – things like video games. But it turns out the industry is in that business, too:
Military-style firearms are prevalent in a target-shooting video game and mobile app called Point of Impact, which was sponsored by the shooting sports foundation and Guns & Ammo magazine.
● The gun industry has done everything it can to prevent the federal government from even conducting research on the harm of gun violence. That’s because, as the Times points out in an editorial, the industry didn’t like the findings:
…[B]y the early 1990s, … gun research had advanced to the point that it contradicted [National Rifle Association] ideology. Some studies found, for example, that people living in a home with a gun were not safer; they faced a significantly elevated risk of homicide and suicide.
But research that helps the industry peddle its product is another matter. According to the Times story:
The focus on young people has been accompanied by [National Shooting Sports Founation]- sponsored research examining popular attitudes toward hunting and shooting. … Most [of the studies] were prepared by consultants retained by the foundation, and at least one was financed with a grant from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.