The Gun Industry Created a New Consumer. Now It’s Killing Us.
Good marketing is supposed to generate demand. Bad firearms marketing has given us a national nightmare.By Ryan Busse
Spencer Platt / Getty; The AtlanticJULY 25, 2022, 7 AM ETSHARE
About the author: Ryan Busse is the author of Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry That Radicalized America, and serves as a senior policy adviser to the gun-safety advocacy group Giffords.
Americans are rightly anguished by gun violence and the question of what’s motivating the young men who have committed a succession of horrific mass murders. We seem to be fumbling around for answers: Is it racism and radicalization, or untreated mental illness, or toxic video games, or too-easy access to guns? All of these may be parts of the problem, but equally none of them makes complete sense outside of the larger context: The gun industry’s modern marketing effort did not just arm these shooters; in a very real sense, it createdthem.
This is something I know a bit about, as someone who spent a quarter century in the business. Over my years as a rising executive with a successful gun manufacturer, I became more and more disturbed by the sort of firearms the industry was selling, how it was selling them, and to whom. Next week, I am testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform at a hearing that, in the words of its chair, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, “will examine the role of gun manufacturers in flooding our communities with weapons of war and fueling America’s gun violence crisis.”
When I got my first job in the gun industry, in 1995, the marketing centered on hunting, target shooting, and responsible self-defense. Many advertisements evoked a love of craftsmanship and the outdoors, and some, like this 1995 Ruger ad, even directly addressed its customers as “responsible citizens”—a tagline the company dropped from its advertising in 2007.(Sturm, Ruger & Co.)
Companies such as the European American Armory, an importer of cheap, mostly Eastern European guns, that used cheesy ads—like this one from 2008—to sell imported guns were a rarity. Little did I realize that those tacky exceptions were the gun industry’s future.(European American Armory)
Those ads, designed to appeal to young men who knew no better, were the starting point for marketing that would create a new customer base and change our country forever.
This transformation received its first boost in the mid-aughts when President George W. Bush allowed the assault-weapons ban to sunset and then signed a bill that gave broad protection from liability to gunmakers. Combined, those moves reduced the social stigma and potential legal penalties for edgy marketing of military-style rifles. Over time, larger, more mainstream gunmakers began to experiment with marketing messages previously relegated to the disfavored fringe of the business.
Young men were the target. They had disposable income, a long customer life, and a readily exploited fascination with guns. The push to access these new customers took off in 2010 when the AR-15 maker Bushmaster launched its “Man Card” advertising campaign.(Bushmaster Firearms International)
The ads, which ran in several gun-industry publications, on websites, and in Maxim magazine, were controversial and gained national attention. More important, they showed the rest of the industry the power of an appeal based on masculinity to the 18–35 male demographic, at a time when images from America’s foreign wars were airing constantly on the evening news.
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“The Bushmaster Man Card declares and confirms that you are a Man’s Man, the last of a dying breed, with all the rights and privileges duly afforded,” the ad copy read. If you’re hearing there, in “dying breed,” an anticipatory echo of the “Great Replacement” theory that inspired the alleged killer in May’s mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, you’re not mistaken: The conclusion that this type of marketing has contributed to creating today’s radical violent extremists is inescapable.
Another echo: One of the guns used by the Buffalo shooter was a Bushmaster XM-15. Of course, the great majority of people who own this rifle have never done anything illegal with it, but one other exception is notorious. On December 14, 2012, a troubled young man from Newtown, Connecticut, used an XM-15 rifle to kill 20 children and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary. Bushmaster ended its “Man Card” campaign soon after the Sandy Hook massacre, but other gun manufacturers had taken notice of the company’s sales success.Price Match, from BPme RewardsSit back and save, with Price Match. We match gas prices up to 2 miles away, you can save at the pump.SPONSORED BY BPME REWARDSLearn more
Smith & Wesson was a more mainstream, traditional brand that chose to take a chance on marketing weapons nearly identical to those carried by soldiers and cops, which could legally be sold to the general public with minor modifications. Hence the name of its M&P15, essentially the same rifle it supplied to its military and police customers. With behind-the-scenes urging by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the main industry trade association, Smith & Wesson added Sport to its branding of the rifle—relying on the social acceptability of hunting and target practice to launder the lethality of the gun.(Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc.)
For Smith & Wesson’s move into the AR-15 market to pay off, the industry as a whole would need to shift from an older, more conservative reliance on hunting and self-defense to an approach dominated by the new tactical culture.
Few of this new breed of firearms company are more illustrative of the dramatic transformation that has taken place in the U.S. gun market than Daniel Defense. Like scores of entrepreneurs who saw this opportunity in the early 2000s, Marty Daniel started a gun company that soon turned to AR-15 sales. And he set a new industry standard by leaning into a civilian market for guns touted as the military real deal. One of the company’s early ads, in 2012, lured young men with the promise of being on par with Special Forces soldiers.
By 2016, Daniel Defense marketing was working so well that it won a coveted spot on the cover of Popular Mechanicsmagazine. The company’s press releaseproclaimed that the placement of its rifle in the “Tough Guys” issue was a “major accomplishment” because it would help Daniel Defense reach a “more mainstream audience.”(Hearst Magazines)
Like many other firearms companies, Daniel Defense also sought placement of its products in movies and video games. This Facebook post from 2019 alerts followers to the appearance of one of its DDM4 V7 rifles in the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare game. The DDM4 V7 was used by the 18-year-old gamer turned shooter in Uvalde, Texas.
The gun industry could have shunned this type of promotional activity. Instead, it chose to penalize those who did. When Ed Stack, the then-longtime CEO of the major retail chain Dick’s Sporting Goods, stopped selling AR-15s after the Parkland school murders, the NSSF moved swiftlyto expel Dick’s from its membership. By contrast, in 2021 the foundation honored Marty Daniel with a seat on its industry board of governors.By adopting such aggressive marketing, companies like Daniel Defense dragged older, more established companies into using similar strategies. With the norm-breaking of the boldest setting the trend and demonstrably creating new consumers, the rest had to follow.
By 2016, publicly traded gun-industry stalwarts such as Ruger and Smith & Wesson were deeply dependent on the emerging tactical market; by 2020, Smith & Wesson’s M&P15 had become America’s best-selling rifle. Not surprisingly, the company’s stock price soared—even as its customer base grew to include the young killers in the mass shootings at Parkland, Florida; Aurora, Colorado; and Highland Park, Illinois.
For an insider like me, the part that industry marketing was playing in creating these customers was unmistakable. The danger signs were evident in places like the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, the industry’s marquee annual event. Usually held in Las Vegas, the SHOT Show is one of the world’s largest trade conventions. I attended more than 25 of them and witnessed their transformation—from an event that once prohibited the display of militaristic tactical gear to one where that became the default. (Spike’s Tactical)
At the show in 2018, I noticed a huge ad for Spike’s Tactical, an up-and-coming AR-15 maker from Florida. Although this event was more than two years away from the protests and violence that erupted in American cities in the summer of 2020, the ad encapsulated an explicit appeal to those drawn toward armed confrontation with left-wing agitators. Antifa had a limited national profile before 2017, when its members were among counterprotesters at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, but Spike’s quickly identified it as the enemy of loyal gun-owning Americans. The ad elicited some criticism, but the industry was silent.
In June 2020, when towns across America saw Black Lives Matter rallies and armed counterprotests, my own 12-year-old son was assaulted by an armed man dressed like a character from the Spike’s ad. I had to jump in to protect my son, who was doing nothing more than chanting “I can’t breathe” with a group of his friends, when one of those gun-toting goons started screaming uncontrollably and jabbing at his chest. More than 100 armed men like him were at that rally.
In that instant, my fears for what the industry was doing became very personal. I did not myself sell AR-15s or participate in the incendiary marketing, but I could no longer ignore the fact that my business was profiting from promoting images of such men, with their backward-facing ball caps and loaded AR-15 rifles. This type of vigilante or self-styled militiaman was preparing to deploy across the country, in our hometown, or other hometowns like Kenosha, Wisconsin.(Adam Rogan / The Journal Times / AP)
Kyle Rittenhouse, a boy who also looked as though he had been plucked from that Spike’s ad, killed two people, and wounded a third, during unrest in Kenosha. Most Americans were horrified at this spectacle, but to the gun industry, he was a hero, someone who took “owning the libs” to a deadly and lucrative new level.
Hours after Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges, Big Daddy Unlimited, a major firearms retailer based in Gainesville, Florida, sent out a social-media post that appeared to endorse the view that Rittenhouse was not a cautionary tale but a masculine ideal of armed citizenry—as the Fox News host Tucker Carlson put it, “exactly the kind of person you’d want more of in your country.”Price Match, from BPme RewardsSit back and save, with Price Match. We match gas prices up to 2 miles away, you can save at the pump.SPONSORED BY BPME REWARDSLearn more
As I discovered, Big Daddy Unlimited’s post contained another, yet more sinister meaning. I would have missed it if I had not recalled seeing someone wearing a make zimbabwe rhodesia again ball cap at the 2018 SHOT Show. A friend then reminded me of the Facebook profile image of the mass murderer of nine Black parishioners in a South Carolina church, in which he is seen wearing a jacket decorated with a Rhodesian flag—iconography much celebrated by U.S. white supremacists. Variations of this image from a famous Rhodesian-army recruiting poster crop up across all the main social-media platforms.
The similarity between the Rhodesian-army poster and the Florida retailer’s Rittenhouse social post is too obvious to miss. (Big Daddy Unlimited’s CEO told The New York Times that the meme had been created by a former employee who was unaware of its historical significance and that it was meant only “to recognize justice for Kyle Rittenhouse.”) The retailer aims to be “the premier online destination” for more than 300,000 firearm products and advertises itself to subscribers as a Second Amendment defender: “Join our Revolution today!”
The lionization of Kyle Rittenhouse tapped into something powerful already under way: Fear of rioters and the power to kill them was proving a winning formula for creating new customers. Wilson Combat, an Arkansas gunmaker, was one company poised to take advantage of public anxiety about civil strife, advertising on its website an AR-15 model marketed as the Urban Super Sniper. “There are times when extreme accuracy and rapid follow-up shots are the most important criteria when selecting a rifle,” the site proclaims.(wilsoncombat.com)
Even the mainstream publication Firearms News had taken up the theme in last year’s edition of its magazineBe Ready!(firearmsnews.com)
The old responsible industry prohibitions were gone. Everywhere I looked, I saw advertisements that played on the new fear-based tactical culture. In the final months of my gun-industry career, I snapped photos to document the change, such as is evident in this banner from the tactical-gear maker Viktos, above a main entrance to the 2020 SHOT Show. Its combination of fire from a modern AR-15 and a Revolutionary War soldier is a historical mash-up we saw repeated with spooky exactitude at the January 6 Capitol riot a year later, when insurrectionists acted on a “1776 Returns”plan and waved come and take it AR-15 flags.(Courtesy of the author)
Gun sales have soared to historic highs over the past three years. Those sales have only confirmed the industry’s strategy for achieving growth, and so the marketing effort has become only more addicted to conspiracy-theory-fueled political partisanship. One new company, Live Q or Die, began trading on the QAnon cult by selling Q-branded AR-15s (the letter is stamped on the lower receiver of this model advertised on the company’s website).(liveqordie.com)
Another company, Palmetto State Armory, has used imagery clearly designed to appeal to the Boogaloo Bois, which the FBI has identified as a far-right, domestic terrorist threat, with products such as this AK-47-style pistol decorated in a “Big Igloo Aloha” pattern that closely resembles the group’s signature aloha shirts.(Palmetto State Armory)
Palmetto State Armory—which is both a major retailer, enjoying the support of big brands like Smith & Wesson, and a manufacturer in its own right, producing tens of thousands of firearms each year—also sells AR-15 parts that carry the anti-Biden slogan “Let’s go, Brandon.”
Palmetto State Armory is far from alone in pitching to violent extremists. Much of that now happens through social-media posts like this one from a leading tactical-gear company that shows a masked gunman wearing a Boogaloo-like shirt and smoking a cigar, which has become a motif of the Proud Boys—includinginside the Capitol on January 6.
By 2021, I had quit the gun industry. I now work on the outside to alert the American public to the dangers I see in this marketing. To me, it undeniably created a culture of extremism that encouraged a new type of “tactical” mass shooter. America is seeing the deadly results of the violence incubated by these dark advertising fantasies.
As for the once-anomalous practice in the industry of using sex to sell products to young men, this is now ubiquitous among the hundreds of companies that sell tactical gear such as helmets, bulletproof vests, and “Contractor AF” (as fuck) pants.
One could be forgiven for wondering how the gun industry could possibly make things worse, now that so many troubled adolescent males have had their “Man Cards” issued, but I’ve learned that it can. After Kyle Rittenhouse, a new industry mascot is coming into view: the tactical toddler set to become the new gun-marketing trend.
A few months ago, the 2022 SHOT Show in Vegas welcomed a pioneer in the field: Wee1 Tactical is a company that uses cartoons to market JR-15s (Junior AR-15s) to kids. Customers flocked to its booth, and the company was named on some “best of” show lists.(Wee1 Tactical)
On May 16, Daniel Defense posted a photo of a toddler cradling one of its AR-15s, captioned with a Bible verse beginning “Train up a child in the way he should go.” Just over a week later, schoolchildren in Uvalde were mutilated and murdered by shots fired from a Daniel Defense rifle. Since the shooting at Robb Elementary, this image has been vociferously criticized, but not by the firearms industry or the NSSF, which still counts Marty Daniel among its trusted leaders. To the rest of the industry, including those small companies hungry to make their mark, this complicit silence confers approval for this next step in firearms marketing.(Twitter @DanielDefense)
Through bitter experience, we know what today’s typical mass shooter looks like and where he’s taking his cultural cues from. Now the industry is giving us a glimpse of its next customer: the American child soldier.Ryan Busse is the author of Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry That Radicalized America, and serves as a senior policy adviser to the gun-safety advocacy group Giffords.
To a rally. A peaceful rally. On city streets in a quiet state capital on a holiday weekend.
That’s a uniform of fear, right there.
Fear of having to pass a background check if they want to buy a gun from a private individual?
Fear of not being able to buy more than one handgun every month?
Fear of not being able to carry an AR-15 across your chest to a county fair that doesn’t want your weapon aboard the Tilt-a-Whirl?
Fear of getting help taking a gun away from your suicidal son?
Because those are all the restrictions on guns that the Virginia House of Delegates passed last week.
The outsized turnout, vigor and rancor in Richmond on Monday — thousands of demonstrators filled the Capitol grounds and surrounding streets — is a reaction based on fear, not fact.
And the fear is all about a loss of power.
“It happened like that,” a man dressed in full camo with a handgun strapped to his hip told his friend, snapping his finger. “We were good for years, then the left took over and they’re going to take our guns away. Virginia is the home of the NRA. They want to run them out, too.”
Be honest, people. Most law-abiding, regular old Virginians could still have a weapon — many weapons, even — under the common-sense legislation that the new Democratic majority in Richmond is passing.
The annual rally supporting unregulated gun ownership in Virginia was huge this year, whipped up by a tweet from President Trump warning: “Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away..”
Besides thousands of people who went through security to adhere to the emergency order banning weapons on Capitol grounds, thousands more who decided they couldn’t be without their weapons encircled the Capitol.
Huge assault weapons strapped across chests and backs knocked against each other in the port-a-potty lines. Some walked in a masked phalanx, bookended by German shepherds.
One group pushed through crowds in a conga line of camo and Carhartt, holding on to each other as they muscled through a crush of people. “Racist, white supremacists coming through,” one line leader bellowed, laughing, like everyone should know he really isn’t racist.
The fears that the demonstration would turn into another Charlottesville were also unfounded. Last week, the FBI arrested three men suspected of being members of a neo-Nazi hate group who stockpiled weapons and allegedly discussed sparking a race war at the Richmond rally.
Counterprotesters were urged by their leaders to avoid the rally. The Moms (who) Demand Action — the group that worked hard to help flip the state’s legislature from red to blue — didn’t show up with their shirts and signs. The families of people killed in massacres avoided the scene. The rowdies who like to clash with everyone Netflixed and chilled.
That helped keep the peace.
But it also meant there were no counterprotesters there to explain that requiring safety checks that still make owning a gun easier than driving a car are not a wholesale assault on the Second Amendment.
Billy Byrd, 55, said he doesn’t really mind the background check. He’s a retired police officer who lives in Williamsburg. But he said he wants to have weapons to protect his family.
“I called the cops the other day and it took them 30 minutes to get there,” Byrd said. “In 30 minutes my whole family could’ve been killed.”
Did he call police because someone was trying to kill his whole family?
“No, someone was there taking pictures of the inside of my son’s car,” he said. “The VIN number.”
Tim (who feared giving me his last name) is a 47-year-old IT guy from North Carolina who owns “more [weapons] than I’m comfortable telling you.” He also didn’t really have a problem with the idea of background checks. But it’s the principle of any kind of legislation or regulation he opposes. And fears.
“Criminals will have guns,” he said.
All of the men I talked to were also solidly opposed to “red-flag laws,” which allow a concerned family member or the police to ask for the temporary removal of weapons from someone who may be dangerous to themselves or others.
“I can just tell the cops that a guy I hate is dangerous, and they’ll go take all his guns. It can happen to me,” one guy told me.
Nope. That may be what he fears. But the red-flag law requires a state court to be petitioned and a judge to weigh in on whether taking the gun is appropriate.
Let me spell it out: The people who lobby for red-flag laws are usually those who lost a loved one to suicide.
Thirty percent of gun deaths in Virginia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are homicides.
A much larger percentage — 67 percent of all gun deaths in the state — are suicides.
The suicide-by-gun rate — about two a day in Virginia — takes primarily rural, white males over the age of 45, according to numbers compiled by America’s Health Rankings. And veterans are 1.5 times as likely to take their lives in Virginia.
That almost perfectly describes the demographic at the gun rally in Richmond.
Think about it, guys. The biggest thing you have to fear, when it comes to guns, is yourselves, actually.
It would be pretty brave to talk about that.
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After the NRA deleted their archive of lawmaker ratings, a top gun safety group steps in to help
Last week the Washington Post discovered that the National Rifle Association had, without explanation, quietly erased their online database tracking lawmaker “grades” on gun issues. The organization had long assigned letter grades to elected officials based on their compliance with each NRA demand; those that voted against new gun legislation or voted for new attempts to weaken gun safety laws got “A” grades, and lawmakers who did not bend to their demands got lower grades.
There was no announcement from the NRA; the ratings were simply gone. Was it an error? Was it intended? The only comment that could be pried from the domestic terrorism lobbying group was an anonymous staffer who opined “I think our enemies were using that.”
But there’s good news, NRA! One of the nation’s leading gun safety groups has helpfully reconstructed the list and made it available to the public! Aren’t you happy?
The grades, which thanks to the group Everytown for Gun Safety are now available for download here, stretch back to 2009. You can use it to find out that House Speaker Paul Ryan has gotten an A or A+ rating from the NRA every time they have graded him, making him a loyal foot soldier in the effort to protect mass shooters from unfair gun restrictions. Marco Rubio got a shameful, shameful B+ during his 2010 Senate bid, but thanks to some good and proper toadying was able to pop up to an A+ rating by the time 2016 rolled around. Rick Scott earned the same cherished A+ rating during his own last campaign—and it’s probably only a coincidence that some of the most horrific mass murders in America have happened under his watch, in his state.
Aren’t you just thrilled, National Rifle Association? These grades will no longer be lost to history. Everyone will be able to once again look up whether their lawmaker has been a sniveling coward catering to the domestic terrorism lobby or a voice, at long sodding last, for basic sanity. And you won’t even have to pay for it! That’s probably important, seeing how you’ve been so hard up for cash of late that you’ve had to ask your Russian friends to help you with your usual campaign efforts.
The country’s largest doctor group just took its most aggressive stance on gun control yet
The AMA overwhelmingly voted to get behind a slew of gun control measures this week.
The American Medical Association (AMA), the US’s largest physician group, officially endorsed a variety of gun control measures on Tuesday.
According to Lindsey Tanner at the Associated Press, the AMA, which represents nearly a quarter of the US’s physicians, backed several new gun laws at its annual policy meeting. Here are some examples, from the AP:
- A minimum age requirement of 21 to own or buy guns and ammo
- Licensing and safety course requirements for gun owners
- Registration requirements for all firearms
- Closing loopholes that allow people with a legal history of domestic abuse to buy or own guns
- Measures that allow courts, upon a relative’s request, to remove guns from homes in which a person is imminently violent or suicidal
- Better training of doctors on screening suicide risk
Support for the policy platform was overwhelming — with a vote of 446 to 99 that included backing from some doctors who own guns, according to the AP.
In the past, the AMA has backed other gun control approaches. As the AP reported, “it has supported past efforts to ban assault weapons; declared gun violence a public health crisis; backed background checks, waiting periods and better funding for mental health services; and pressed for more research on gun violence prevention.”
But the latest vote signals a more aggressive approach by the AMA as gun violence gets more attention due to high-profile mass shootings, such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February.
There’s good reason for that extra attention: The US still far outpaces its developed peers when it comes to gun violence. And the research suggests that the nation’s lax gun laws are a major reason for the higher rates of gun deaths.
America’s unique gun violence problem
The US has nearly six times the gun homicide rate of Canada, more than seven times that of Sweden, and nearly 16 times that of Germany, according to United Nations data compiled by the Guardian. (These gun deaths are a big reason America has a much higher overall homicide rate, which includes non-gun deaths, than other developed nations.)
Mass shootings actually make up a small fraction of America’s gun deaths, constituting less than 2 percent of such deaths in 2016. But America does see a lot of these horrific events: According to CNN, “The US makes up less than 5% of the world’s population, but holds 31% of global mass shooters.”
So why is the US such an outlier? Researchers widely believe it’s due to America’s tremendous abundance of and access to guns. According to estimates, in 2007 the number of civilian-owned firearms in the US was 88.8 guns per 100 people, meaning there was almost one privately owned gun per American and more than one per American adult. The world’s second-ranked country was Yemen, a quasi-failed state torn by civil war, where there were 54.8 guns per 100 people.
The research, compiled by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center, is clear: After controlling for variables such as socioeconomic factors and other crime, places with more guns have more gun deaths. Researchers have found this to be true not just with homicides but also with suicides (which in recent years accounted for around 60 percent of US gun deaths), domestic violence, and even violence against police.
As a breakthrough analysis by UC Berkeley’s Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins in the 1990s found, it’s not even that the US has more crime than other developed countries. This chart, based on data from Jeffrey Swanson at Duke University, shows that the US is not an outlier when it comes to overall crime:
Instead, the US appears to have more lethal violence — and that’s driven in large part by the prevalence of guns.
”A series of specific comparisons of the death rates from property crime and assault in New York City and London show how enormous differences in death risk can be explained even while general patterns are similar,” Zimring and Hawkins wrote. “A preference for crimes of personal force and the willingness and ability to use guns in robbery make similar levels of property crime 54 times as deadly in New York City as in London.”
This is in many ways intuitive: People of every country get into arguments and fights with friends, family, and peers. But in the US, it’s much more likely that someone will get angry at an argument and be able to pull out a gun and kill someone.
Stronger gun laws could help combat this. A 2016 review of 130 studies in 10 countries, published in Epidemiologic Reviews, found that new legal restrictions on owning and purchasing guns tended to be followed by a drop in gun violence — a strong indicator that restricting access to guns can save lives. A review of the US evidence by RAND also linked some gun control measures, including background checks, to reduced injuries and deaths.
But the US maintains some of the weakest gun laws in the developed world. Until America confronts that issue, it will continue seeing more shootings than the rest of the developed world.
For more on America’s gun problem, read Vox’s explainer.
Pennsylvania eighth graders issued bulletproof backpack plates as graduation gift
The entire graduating class at a Pennsylvania middle school was gifted bulletproof backpack plates as they prepare to head to high school next year.
Students at St. Cornelius in Chadds Ford, Pa., were outfitted with the “ballistic shields” thanks to a donation from a local company, according to Fox 29. The report notes that Unequal Technologies developed the ultra-thin shield and designed a 10-by-12-inch plate that can slip into a backpack.
The bulletproof backpack plates were also handed out to 25 faculty members at the school.
“I never thought I’d need this,” one student told Fox 29.
But parents and guardians of students told the news outlet that while a bulletproof backpack may be extreme, it’s necessary.
“You hear about these school shootings almost weekly, and I can’t believe that’s where we are in our nation today, but that’s the fact,” said one great-grandparent.
Unequal president Rob Vito argued handguns and shotguns are “useless” against a product like the one the company gifted the students.
The gift comes as recent deadly school shootings in places like Parkland, Fla. and Santa Fe, Texas, draw further attention to school safety.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) recently unveiled a new proposal that calls, in part, for the funding of firearms training programs for school officials.
Dick’s Sporting Goods will destroy assault-style rifles pulled from shelves
When Dick’s Sporting Goods said it would no longer sell modern sporting rifles at its Field & Stream stores following the Valentine’s Day shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school, one question was what would happen to the unsold firearms in its inventory.
Typically a retailer may return unsold merchandise to the manufacturer. But in this case, Dick’s Sporting Goods has decided to destroy them.
“We are in the process of destroying all firearms and accessories that are no longer for sale as a result of our February 28th policy change,” a spokeswoman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We are destroying the firearms in accordance with federal guidelines and regulations.”
The so-called assault-style rifles will be destroyed at the company’s distribution centers and the parts sent to a salvage company to be recycled, the Findlay-based retailer added. The company did not say how much merchandise would be included.
The new gun sales policy at Dick’s Sporting Goods had backing from the Sisters of Mercy
In addition to the decision on pulling assault-style rifles from its 35 specialty Field & Stream locations, the sporting goods chain said in February that it also would no longer sell high capacity magazines or sell firearms to anyone under 21 years old following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Dick’s is facing two lawsuits over the new age limit on firearm purchases.
This is not the first time that the sporting goods retailer has changed its gun sale policies.
Following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the retailer had pulled modern sporting rifles from its namesake stores nationwide. When it later opened its specialty Field & Stream stores, it introduced the modern sporting rifles to its product line there.
The company did not comment on what it did with the firearms it pulled from its Dick’s stores in 2012.
Stephanie Ritenbaugh: email@example.com; 412-263-4910; Twitter: @StephanieRit
The April 7, IL06 Town Hall for Our Lives in Glen Ellyn was an incredible achievement by the students from three area high schools who organized it. The students invited Rep. Peter Roskam, who declined along with every Republican member of congress nationwide. Democratic candidate, Sean Casten, answered scores of questions on gun violence prevention from students and other attendees.
Prompted by public outcry, Arlington Heights urges state to pass more gun control measures – Chicago Tribune – Arlington Heights Post
Supreme Court leaves in place California’s 10-day wait for gun buyers, rejects 2nd Amendment challenge – LA Times
Everytown took out this 2-page ad in the NYT today listing off members of Congress, their phone numbers and how much NRA money they’ve taken
Teen speaks clearly on gun control: ‘We’re children … get something done’
This teenager isn’t afraid to speak out
David Hogg is not mincing words. The 17-year-old senior survived Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people, and he wants action. “We’re children,” he said. “You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together. Come over your politics and get something done.” Here’s what we know about the shooting. The suspect, former student Nikolas Cruz, 19. bought his gun legally and appeared in court Thursday. Authorities have not yet publicly identified the victims, but friends, family and coaches are sharing their memories. And this is on a lot of minds: Why the National Rifle Association has so much clout in Washington.
#DisarmHate Congressional Media Clips – July 1, 2
Court: No right to carry concealed weapons in public
A Weekend in Chicago: Where Gunfire Is a Terrifying Norm – New York Times
#WearOrange Party for Peace – NBC5Chicago News Broadcast Link
NWSOFA GVP Partners with GVP Groups and Meets with Gabby Giffords
Concealed Carry Permit Applications Drop Across Illinois – AP via Daily Herald
President Obama Shares His Personal Thoughts Three Years After Sandy Hook via Facebook
This photo was taken two days later, when I went to Newtown and visited with the families of the victims. It was a town that could be any town in America. They were grieving moms and dads, brothers and sisters, spouses missing the center of their lives at Christmastime – good and decent people who could have been any of our loved ones.
Three years on, how do we tell them that their Congress hasn’t done anything to prevent what happened to them from happening to other families?
Soon after the shootings, I took a series of executive actions within my power to reduce gun violence and keep more of our kids safe. Their governor in Connecticut, Dan Malloy, worked with his legislature to pass some commonsense gun safety reforms – reforms that didn’t infringe upon anyone’s right to bear arms, but actually might have prevented another massacre in the meantime. And two United States senators – a Democrat from West Virginia and a Republican from Pennsylvania, both gun owners, both strong defenders of our Second Amendment rights, both with “A grades” from the NRA – worked together to write a commonsense compromise bill that would have required virtually everyone who buys a gun to get a background check. That’s it. Dangerous people would no longer get to play by a different set of rules than responsible gun owners who bought their guns the right way. Pretty commonsense stuff.
But the gun lobby and its allies mobilized to paint that compromise reform as an assault on our freedom. And even though background checks were supported by some 90% of the American people and a majority of NRA households, the Senate surrendered, voting to block those background checks – even with the families of Newtown in attendance.
Since then, tens of thousands of our fellow Americans have been mowed down by gun violence. Tens of thousands. More kids have lost siblings. More parents have lost children. More husbands and wives have had to bury the love of their life. Sometimes, it’s hard to put specific numbers on this epidemic and its causes – because Congress has actually prevented the CDC, our leading public health agency, from conducting serious research into gun violence. Did you know that? Some years ago, they actually voted to make it harder for public health experts to conduct research into gun violence – but even after San Bernardino, they’ve refused to make it harder for terrorist suspects to buy semi-automatic weapons.
Every time this happens, we’re told that commonsense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, so we shouldn’t do anything. We’re not fools – we know that we can’t heal every troubled mind, or stop every act of violence.
But what if we tried to stop even one? What if Congress did something – anything – to save one American, or a classroom of Americans, or a stadium’s worth of Americans from losing their lives to gun violence in the years to come?
I refuse to give up on this. Because I still believe that we can do better. I still believe that we can get this right. We may not have a Congress that’s willing to work with us on this right now. So the rest of us will have to do what we can. I recently tasked my team at the White House to take another look at any other actions I can take to help reduce gun violence. And if you care about this, then please help me – whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or neither. We especially need the help of responsible gun owners who grieve with us every time this happens, and feel like your views aren’t being properly represented. I know there are a lot of you. I’ve heard from you. I’ve read your letters and emails.
Let me be absolutely clear – like I’ve said many times before, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. Period. No matter how many times people try to paint me as holding a different position. I also believe that most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale. I believe there is a rational, bipartisan majority in America who agrees that we all have the right to worship freely and safely; the right to assemble peaceably; the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – and who doesn’t want to see those rights taken from us, as they were taken from worshipers in Charleston and Oak Creek; moviegoers in Aurora and Lafayette; students in Blacksburg and Roseburg, Columbine and Newtown, and kids on street corners in Chicago too often to tolerate.
Change, as always, is going to take all of us – from the grassroots up. The gun lobby is loud and organized in its defense of effortlessly available guns for anyone. The rest of us are going to have to be just as passionate and organized in our defense of our kids.
America, this will change – but only when we stand up, together, and demand it.
One Injured After Shots Fired Between Moving Cars in Rolling Meadows Police suspect the shooting was gang-related – Patch, 12-13-15
Gun TV, a channel that lets people order firearms from home, is launching in the US
From Business on Flipboard
As insomniacs and impulse shoppers around the world can attest, home television shopping networks can make people covet never-before-contemplated…
Read it on Flipboard
Read it on qz.com
Public health joining with new partners to fight gun violence: More than 33,000 US deaths in 2014 – The Nation’s Health
NWSOFA GVP Team Partner Event with People For A Safer Society
As you may know, last week the Village of Niles approved the extension for the special use permit allowing the gun shop and firing range planned for 6143 Howard Street in Niles to proceed with plans to begin construction. We are not giving up and we appreciate your support. Here is some news coverage:
This week there are two opportunities for you to support our efforts to stop the gun shop and shooting range from opening. We will be seeking support on this issue at the following meetings:
Skokie Village Board meeting – Monday, August 3 at 8:00 pm at the Skokie Village Hall located at 5127 Oakton in Skokie.
District 219 Board meeting – Tuesday, August 4 at 6:45 pm at the District Office located at 7700 Gross Point Road in Skokie.
Denyse Stoneback will speak during public comments about the location of the gun shop at both meetings, seeking support from the Village of Skokie and District 219. We don’t want a lot of people making comments, as that may have a negative effect on board members. But your presence in support will speak volumes. If you have a green ribbon, or something green, please wear it as a sign of support.
Thank you for working to make a safer society!
Articles on Gun Violence Prevention – Suggested by Members of the NWSOFA GVP Team
“After Charleston Voters Must Demand New Gun Laws,” Scot Lehigh: Boston Globe.
A recent Op-Ed column from the Boston Globe addressing politics surrounding gun violence prevention, the NRA, and Congressional failure to take action to reduce gun violence in America.
“What Does Gun Violence Really Cost?” Mark Follman, Julia Lurie, Jaeah Lee, and James West: Mother Jones.
Interesting report published in Mother Jones earlier this year covering an extensive investigation of the true costs of gun violence in America.
“Tracing the Guns: The Impact of Illegal Guns on Violence in Chicago,”
City of Chicago – Office of the Mayor and Chicago Police Department.
Data based research report investigating the impact of illegal guns on violent crime in Chicago and on the scope of the City’s illegal gun market. This report includes eye-opening information on the small percentage of gun dealers that sell most of the guns used in criminal activities. The report is interesting but somewhat lengthy. If you want to go to the heart of the issue, start about halfway down Page 6 with Section II B.
“Children and Guns: The Hidden Toll,” Michael Luo and Mike McIntire: New York Times
An in-depth report on accidental firearm deaths of American children, covering both how such shootings occur and ways in which they might be prevented.
- How America Wound Up With a Gun Background Check System Built More for Speed Than Certainty The almost-forgotten story of the Gekas amendment. – The Trace
What can you do to help prevent gun violence?
Community Group Sues 3 Chicago Suburbs Over Gun Sales
Informational Articles on Guns in Chicago and Illinois
NWSOFA Gun Violence Prevention Team Joins Coalition Partners at Chuck’s Gun Shop Rally
On June 2, you helped show that Americans nationwide are ready to do what it takes to end gun violence in our country. But #WearingOrange isn’t just about one day of awareness. It’s about doing everything we can to save lives today, tomorrow and every day.
THANK YOU for making Wear Orange the incredible success it was. We’re going to go even bigger next year. Make sure to mark your calendar for June 2, 2016!
Director of Cultural Engagement
Everytown for Gun Safety
P.S. If you didn’t grab a Wear Orange tee or pin before they sold out, I encourage you to get them now and wear them proudly every day. Your purchase helps fuel our movement to end gun violence.
Gun Violence Prevention – We Are the Majority
- Your Right to Carry vs. My Right to Evacuate – DailyKos
- Moms Demand Action
- GVP July 2014 Chapter Meeting Flyer
- National ASK Day – June 21, 2014
- At Least 40 Shot In Chicago Weekend Wave Of Violence
- Illinois State Police
Download the sign that every Illinois homeowner, business, school, house of worship and hospital – by law – must display to keep concealed guns from being carried inside their dwelling/buildings. Also for any and all questions you have regarding the Illinois concealed carry law – this is where you can get answers. Many local police departments right now are referring all questions about the concealed carry law to this site.
- It Can Happen Here
This group asks people to take action locally and nationally in the areas of bullying, education, gun safety, mental healthcare, parenting and poverty.
- Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation
Started by Scarlett Lewis, mother of Jesse Lewis, a 6 year old at Sandy Hook whose heroic efforts saved the lives of many of his classmates and who died with his teacher, Victoria Soto, this foundation is designed to promote curriculum in schools to promote the loving acts of kindness and love over actions based on anger.
- Nurturing, Healing, Love
This is an amazing book by Scarlett Lewis, mother of Jesse Lewis, a 6 year old student who was killed at Sandy Hook. Her powerful testimony speaks of the power of forgiveness.
- We Are Newtown
Get involved with making a difference in the world and honoring the 26 victims of Newtown through your acts of kindness. This site will help get you started.
- Illinois politicians and where they stand on gun control
- letters to lawmakers.pdf – 81.7KB
- NewtownChangesEverything.pdf – 5.17MB
- Not One More Video – http://youtu.be/tInvbiCvCkM
- Recruit Republican co-sponsors in the House to build support for Thompson King bipartisan bill. This bill seeks to strengthen background checks on gun purchases and is identical to the Senate bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa).
- Work with Coalition Partners who share a similar vision. These partners include the Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence, Mom’s Demand Action, Citizen Action IL, Rainbow Push and the Urban League.
- Maintain a steady legislative focus on two specific House Republican Representatives from Illinois. Contact Rep. Rodney Davis (District 13) and tell him to: “Do the right thing…the time to act is now” and also contact Rep. Aaron Schock (District 18th) and tell him: “This is an opportunity to be a leader on issue of GVP in your party.”
- Participate in the April 14th National Day of Action Event. The exact nature and details of this event will be announced soon by our Illinois OFA leadership team.
06/21/2014 – 06/22/2014 – http://www.momsdemandaction.org/
Moms Demand Action is suggesting that no one shop at Target on the weekend and instead shop at one of the stores they list at their website that do not favor open carry of weapons. They would like everyone to take a picture of themselves with a sign saying #OffTarget and send it to them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
02/11/2014 – Illinois Concealed Carry Law: What You Need to Know to Build Safer Communities for All Families and Businesses
Seating capacity at the Palatine Police Station Community Meeting room is limited. All seats will be held for those who have registered in advance at MyBO: https://my.barackobama.com/page/event/detail/gunviolencepreventionactionevent/gs83y2.
02/20/2014 – If you are interested in joining us and honoring all victims of gun violence through your individual actions to help make our communities safer, then come to our monthly Gun Violence Prevention Issues Group Planning Meeting at the Coffee Planet, 1450 Golf Rd., Rolling Meadows, 60008. We hold a short (30 – 45 minutes) Planning Meeting on the 3rd Thursday of every month and afterwards many of us stay to help out with the weekly NWSOFA Phone Banking. Our February meeting will be held on Thursday, February 20th at 6:30 pm. Thank you so much and we hope to see you at the Coffee Planet!