The Gun Control Industry Demonization of Gun Makers’ Ads is an Intellectually Dishonest Witch Hunt

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Gun control advocates are ready to start grabbing pitchforks and torches in their attempt to drive out firearm manufacturer advertisements. They say they fear that today’s advertising is running to a tipping point where they need to rally the villagers to chase the monster pieced together by mad gun advertisers out of town.

Today’s gun ads, they claim, are a horrific menagerie of “toxic masculinity,” fearmongering and anti-government militancy. Except none of that is true.

The gun control industry’s efforts are more like a witch hunt, and more like Monty Python’s version of one depicted in the cult classic, “The Holy Grail.”

They’re too busy clanging alarm bells trying to roust of the Federal Trade Commission to realize that the monster they’re chasing doesn’t actually exist. The real monsters are the criminals, not the law-abiding gun owners who are lawfully purchasing firearms for self-defense, recreational shooting and hunting.

They want to muzzle and silence our industry so the American heritage and tradition of hunting and the shooting sports is not passed on to the next generation.

Defining Acceptable Ads

Adweek was the latest to weigh in. The advertising trade publication, which regularly highlights efforts by various gun control groups to demonize lawful gun ownership, posted a feature claiming that today’s gun ads are turning America’s children into “extremists.”

The article focuses on an effort by lawmakers to pressure the FTC to abandon their neutrality and deny gun manufacturers the ability to advertise. They say the ads of yesteryear of plaid-clad hunters unwrapping a rifle under the tree are acceptable, but today’s advertising that draws on patriotism and self-reliance is a bridge too far. They want the FTC to burn gun manufacturers at the metaphorical stake and cut out their tongues.

vintage gun ad christmas

That is a pretty big leap to suggest that Americans – even youth – exposed to firearm ads will have their minds poisoned.

Guns have been advertised for decades, even guns offered in youth models. Mechanix Illustrated ran an ad in 1954 for a Remington .22-caliber rifle, featuring a youth holding a rifle he received as a Christmas present.

vintage gun ad Remington
Mechanix Illustrated, December 1954

Sears Roebuck listed firearms in their catalog in 1897, featuring a shotgun for $7.95 and would even deliver a revolver to a mailing address.

Clearly, government regulations restricted that years ago. Even toy guns, like Mattel’s #2 M-16 were featured in 1967 with “braap, brra-a-a-a-ap, brap, brap,” sounds were advertised.

None of that turned America’s youth into murderers. In fact, recreational shooting, including the scholastic shooting sports, ranks among the safest sporting activities. Golf, walking and tennis report more injuries than hunting and trap and skeet shooting reports just 0.1 percent of injuries.

Intellectually Dishonest

That is because the shooting sports are heavily supervised. Basic foundational safety rules are a must and are drilled into every gun owner. Children are admonished to only handle firearms under the direct supervision of a responsible adult.

Critics of lawful firearm ownership are being intellectually dishonest when they say it is advertising that is causing out-of-control crime rates or horrific murders. They know this is not true.

It is not as if these are individuals who are not academically accomplished. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was once a professor at Harvard University. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) was Yale Law School graduate who also served as Connecticut’s attorney general. They are not uneducated. They are just being dishonest.

They don’t want to admit that the soft-on-crime policies they espouse are not making our communities safer. They would rather latch onto every gun control notion they can and misrepresent to America that the societal ills are the fault of the firearm industry that they have made a career demonizing. It plays well to their voters when they do not have to admit their policies are failing.

It’s easier to cast blame and malign an industry, tell America that murderers are not individuals with craven hearts who couldn’t care less about the law, much less the value of human life. It is easier to ignore that the responsible firearm industry offers Real Solutions than admit law-abiding gun owners are invested in safe and responsible ownership.

Don’t believe their false and misleading claims that the firearm industry is evil. They are the ones selling pitchforks and torches.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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