After every mass shooting, the gun debate splits into two camps: One side says it easily could have been avoided if these maniacs weren't allowed to have guns; the other says it easily could have been avoided if each innocent victim had only gone through their daily lives in cover formation, armed like the space marines entering the giant murder womb in Aliens.
And that's pretty much the entire gun control debate, as far as the mainstream media are willing to cover. And that is a shame, because it leaves out all of the most interesting parts. Trust us, the longer you look into this, the weirder it gets. For instance ...
Note: Even though we ran this article last year, it's distressing how many of the points it raises still seem fresh and valid. It's like this conversation has stalled out, like people are purposefully trying to prevent research into this topic. And on the other side of the issue, the media is reporting spikes in Chicago gun violence, despite the fact that Chicago gun violence is actually down. We hope this Cracked Classic will give you a new, more sober perspective. Also we made some jokes. Hope that's cool. -Cracked
The world is no doubt full of level-headed gun owners who are all about safety and responsible ownership (Note: one of the authors of this article owns four guns, one of which he keeps up his sleeve in a spring-loaded apparatus). They scoff at ridiculous macho action movie fantasies, and they have never stuck a gun through the open fly of their pants and said, "Hey look, it's my gun dick." But gun manufacturers do not themselves appear to share their view.
"We at Ruger find the gun dick extremely refreshing on hot summer days."
For instance, do you insecure males want to get your "man card" back? Then you need to buy a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle, according to renowned masculinity experts Bushmaster (as their ad campaign puts it, "In a world of rapidly depleting testosterone, the Bushmaster Man Card declares and confirms that you are a man's man").
"I haven't seen my penis in years, so this is comforting."
Wait, is that the same assault rifle the Newtown shooter used? It totally is! That's why they had to pull their "man card" campaign. In the aftermath of the shooting, these ads were forwarded around by disbelieving gun control advocates who seemed shocked to find that they existed, as if gun ads had been outlawed back when cigarettes stopped showing up in Sports Illustrated. It turns out that this is a pretty big blind spot in the gun control debate -- one whole side is made up of people who don't encounter gun ads in their natural habitat and therefore miss a big part of the picture. And that picture looks like this:
Advanced Armament Corp
Gunfitti is a major problem in many American cities.
Hell, they even do product placement. You know those newfangled first-person shooter games the kids play these days, like Medal of Honor: Warfighter, where they go online and shoot each other over and over again? No, we're not going to say the games cause violence (they don't -- we'll get to that in a moment), but each level in that game starts with a long list of guns you can load yourself down with ...
... and those are totally real guns you can buy in the real world -- you can go to the game's website to find out how. So, you can go into a match arming yourself with the Daniel Defense M4V1 and, if you like it, just go to the Medal of Honor website and find the link to Daniel Defense, which is listed among other proud partners like LaRue Tactical (slogan: "The Dead Center of Precision") and the McMillan Group ("Shoot to Win").
Well, you can't go to the website now -- they pulled that page after Newtown, for some reason. So our question is, what's the gun makers' line of thinking here? What audience are they selling to? What's the message they want that audience to take home? You have a game where teenagers are doing this ...
... and the gun manufacturers who sponsor the game come off like they're saying, "Hey, if you ever want to do something like this in real life, do it with a Daniel Defense brand M4 carbine!" We know that gun manufacturers aren't actively trying to turn kids into school shooters (at the very least, it's terrible for business and forces them to run less manly ad campaigns). And in the single-player mode, the players are using these guns to shoot terrorists instead of each other. But even then -- are they hoping kids will remember to buy that brand when hunting terrorists? Because if the players join the military, they're not going to shop for their own guns. The Army gives you one for free when you join. They actually get mad when you bring your own.
So what is the goal of that product placement? What is the "something like this" that they hope kids will use their product to do? What fantasy are the gun makers playing into here if the goal is to affect a purchase decision down the line?
"Machine guns are like wallet condoms: You'll be glad you planned ahead when you need one."
Maybe this can shed a little light on it. Gun maker Weatherby, Inc. sells a pump-action shotgun called the PA-459. What does "459" stand for, you ask? Is it the caliber? Is it the 459th iteration of their Pump Action line? Well, remember how rappers used to threaten to pull a "1-8-7" on each other instead of "murder"? That was a reference to the fact that homicide is covered by Section 187 of the penal code. Same deal! Except here, the "459" in the shotgun name is the code for "burglary in progress."
They're not selling it to burglars, obviously, but to people who fantasize about shooting burglars. You can find that gun in the "Threat Response" section of their website, where you can get everything from $500 home defense shotguns to $4,000 rifles promising "long-range, certified tactical accuracy." You know, in case you see your burglar coming from 500 yards away.
"I believe that all life is one, so technically anything I do is self-defense."
"What's wrong with somebody wanting to protect his family?" Nothing. And people do use guns to fight off bad guys (although nobody has any idea how often that happens, because the subject is so politicized, it's impossible to find statistics that agree). But how many of those same people who are willing to shell out used-car money on "home defense" firearms don't, for instance, bother spending 20 bucks to keep a working fire extinguisher or carbon monoxide detector in the house? That Bushmaster AR-15 that mass shooters keep using? It costs a thousand bucks, and bullets are a dollar each (and you need to fire a few thousand of those to get proficient with the weapon). So why not spend those thousands on an alarm system and better locks so the bad guy never gets into the house in the first place?
In other words, are they obsessed with security, or are they obsessed with the idea of getting to shoot some motherfuckers? Are gun manufacturers selling guns they think people will actually use, or are they selling a fantasy? Are they, in fact, filling an emotional need?
"'Emotional need' sounds way classier than 'gun boner'!"
All right, so we're blaming gun company ads for all these mass shootings? Nope! In fact ...