For Release: Thursday, December 14, 2000
Report Reveals Latest Effort by Gunmakers to Market Firearms to Children and Teens and Should be Warning to Unaware Holiday Shoppers
WASHINGTON, DC The Violence Policy Center (VPC), joined by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), today released its new study, From Gun Games to Gun Stores: Why the Firearms Industry Wants Their Video Games on Your Child’s Wish List, at a Capitol Hill news conference. The 19-page full-color report exposes the latest effort by the gun industry to market firearms to children and teens: gun industry video games. With titles such as Remington Top Shot, Colt’s Wild West Shootout, and Guns & Ammo: The Ultimate Target Challenge these games are designed, in the words of the National Rifle Association, to help children and teens “get into shooting cyber style.”
VPC Policy Analyst and study author Marty Langley states, “These games, marketed as children’s toys and sold through channels such as eToys.com are, in fact, marketing tools to attract new customers for the gun industry. Such flagrant marketing of a deadly product to children has not been witnessed since the days of Joe Camel and Spuds McKenzie.”
In 1999 the trade publication Shooting Industry stated: “What we need is a computer game which combines the use of a real handgun…with state-of-the-art graphics and an exciting story….A game like that would be an extremely effective vehicle to introduce safe recreational shooting to the video-game generation.” In the U.S., no one under 21 may purchase a handgun and no one under 18 may purchase a rifle or shotgun from a gun dealer.
Through these games, gunmakers offer “virtual” versions of their deadly products to children to introduce them to firearms and engender brand loyalty in future customers. Remington Top Shot, which has no age rating, offers a virtual arsenal that ranges from 50 caliber Desert Eagle handguns the most powerful handgun sold in the U.S. to full-auto assault rifles. Guns & Ammo: The Ultimate Target Challenge, rated for ages 13 and up, offers over 100 guns from 20 manufacturers. Remington Upland Game Hunter, which has no age rating, includes what the game itself refers to as an “On-Line Catalog” of selected Remington guns.
In the study, the VPC calls upon the federal government to investigate the full range of gun- industry marketing efforts targeted at children and youth.