For Release: Monday, April 2, 2012
Study Contains Gun Industry, NRA Quotes; Examples of Gun Industry Ads Including Kel-Tec Pistol Used In Trayvon Martin Shooting
Washington, DC–The lethal shooting of unarmed, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by concealed handgun permit holder George Zimmerman is the predictable result of an aggressive decades-long campaign by the National Rifle Association (NRA) to promote lax concealed carry laws and attendant “Shoot First” laws that boost gun industry sales according to a new Violence Policy Center (VPC) report, “Never Walk Alone”–How Concealed Carry Laws Boost Gun Industry Sales” (vpc.org/studies/ccwnra.pdf).
Faced with a decades-long decline in household gun ownership, the firearms industry has worked to exploit these NRA-backed laws to re-sell old customers and entice new ones. As Tanya Metaksa, then-chief lobbyist for the NRA told the Wall Street Journal in 1996–“The gun industry should send me a basket of fruit–our efforts have created a new market.”
Today, ads for concealed carry or “personal-defense” handguns permeate gun publications–both industry- and consumer-focused. The January 2012 issue of the NRA’s monthly activist magazine, America’s 1st Freedom, contains an ad for the very model of handgun used by Zimmerman to kill Trayvon Martin–the Kel-Tec PF-9 pistol. The ad features an array of the pistols in different finishes and urges readers to “Pick your favorite color.” Described by its manufacturer as being designed with “maximum concealability in mind,” the PF-9 is “one of the lightest and flattest 9mm ever made.” An ad for a similar Kel-Tec concealed carry pistol, the P-32, in the July 2011 issue of Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement features the handgun lying on a table next to the owner’s car keys and spare change. Characterizing the handgun as “compact protection,” the ad warns, “Don’t leave home without it!” On its website Kel-Tec states that it specializes in “handguns for concealed carry by law enforcement personnel and qualified citizens….” All of the company’s employees are members of the National Rifle Association.
While in their public promotion of lax concealed weapons laws the gun lobby and gun industry rarely mention the financial benefits such laws afford gun sellers, in industry publications they are far more open. As the CEO of handgun manufacturer Taurus International explained to the gun industry publication Shooting Industry in December 2011:
“The buying trends of most people have shifted quite dramatically over the past four or five years. The products that are selling throughout the year have shifted. For instance, the cycles for sales of hunting products have been shortened dramatically, which requires a tremendous amount of planning and research to make sure you hit it right. However, in home security and concealed carry, it’s a year-round business…The economy is certainly something we have been lucky to escape, especially in the areas of home security and concealed carry.”
Six months earlier, in a Shooting Industry column devoted to marketing guns to women, the author exhorted:
“Scaled-down guns are the hot ticket for 2011, and many of the new guns introduced earlier in the year are beginning to appear on dealers’ shelves. Almost every major manufacturer has a firearm that is reduced in size or designed for concealed carry, which is great news for women looking for pocket-sized self-defense guns….”
Included in the VPC report are numerous color examples of gun industry advertisements representing a wide range of manufacturers. An ad that appeared in the December 2011 issue of Gun World encapsulates the mindset of concealed carry: “Regardless of your location, your dress or the season, NO gun is easier to carry or conceal than a North American Arms mini-revolver. Is it an effective deterrent? Would you want to be shot with one?” The ad warns the reader “don’t leave home without one” and adds, “Remember Rule #1: Have a gun!”
The study notes that despite the national controversy over the death of Trayvon Martin, the U.S. Senate may soon take up legislation that would expand the rights of concealed carry vigilantes like George Zimmerman to carry their handguns outside their home states and across the nation. Two bills (S. 2188 and S. 2213) have recently been introduced that would significantly expand the ability of concealed carry permit holders to carry their loaded guns nationwide.
The study concludes that “while pro-gun advocates will inevitably voice their support of these bills in terms of self-defense and individual rights, truly the greatest beneficiary of national concealed carry stands to be the gun industry.”