As the Market for Guns Changes, Companies Aim at Women, Youths Gun-Control Groups, Alarmed by New Ad Campaigns, Point to Statistics Showing the Large Number of Deaths Caused by Firearms in the US

By David Mutch, Writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 11, 1994 | Go to article overview

As the Market for Guns Changes, Companies Aim at Women, Youths Gun-Control Groups, Alarmed by New Ad Campaigns, Point to Statistics Showing the Large Number of Deaths Caused by Firearms in the US


David Mutch, Writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


GUN manufacturers and gun groups are targeting youths and women in their efforts to expand sales of handguns and semi-automatic rifles in the United States.

At a gun trade show in Dallas in January, gun manufacturer Taurus USA displayed a poster that said: "A terrific Tauris Afternoon!" It showed a father helping his young son aim a pistol. Mom is kneeling beside them with the dog. "Time ... to relax, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy an all-too-rare moment ... together," the text said.

The magazine Gun World has carried an ad by Feather Industries showing a father teaching his son how to handle a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle. The copy said this "sporting firearm" is "becoming the choice of the next generation."

Intratec Fireams offers a calendar covered with semi-nude women in Rambo-style poses holding pistols, semi-automatic pistols, and semi-automatic rifles. More seriously, gunmakers are pushing the self-defense "merits" of handguns for women. Smith & Wesson is very active in this area.

"All gun manufacturers now support marketing" to youths and women, says Robert Delflay, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. He says his organization, supported by the gun industry, is promoting a "sport that has existed for at least a century" and has a part in the Olympics. The Boy Scouts, he notes, has rifle and shotgun merit badges.

His organization stresses safety in gun handling and also puts out a pamphlet called, "When your youngster wants a gun...," which includes this statement: "How old is old enough? Age is not the major yardstick. Some youngsters are ready to start at 10, others at 14." Presumably the family would buy the gun, if convinced by the arguments, because all state and federal laws prohibit buying a rifle before the age of 18 and a handgun before 21.

"The handgun manufacturers and the gun sporting groups are targeting women and youths in an effort to ensure their market and also to influence public opinion toward continued gun ownership," says Josh Sugarman, head of the gun-control group Violence Policy Center, in Washington.

The arguments on the rights and merits vs. the dangers of gun ownership are endless. …

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