Section Three: The NSSF and NRA Exploit COVID-19 In Their Marketing Efforts
The NRA and gun industry have a long history of exploiting crises (real and perceived) and civil unrest not only to market weapons, but to justify even the most extreme arguments in support of gun ownership.
In March 2020, as concerns over COVID-19 took hold across the nation, the NRA released a four-minute video featuring Carletta Whiting, a disabled Black woman with a fibromyalgia-related disability who is also a breast cancer and domestic violence survivor.71
In a tweet publicizing the video, the NRA stated:
Americans are flocking to gun stores because they know the only reliable self-defense during a crisis is the #2A.
Carletta Whiting, who’s disabled & vulnerable to #coronavirus, asks Dems trying to exploit the pandemic: Why do you want to leave people like me defenseless?
In the video she warns:
Here’s something for you to think about. You might be stockpiling up on food right now to get through this current crisis; but if you aren’t preparing to defend your property when everything goes wrong, you’re really just stockpiling for somebody else.
The photo accompanying the NSSF article “Diversity in Gun Ownership Nothing New to Firearm Industry,” features a woman of color with a pink assault rifle on her shirt
By July, in the wake of increases in firearm sales, the National Shooting Sports Foundation was quick to assert that an increase in gun sales was the latest proof of the industry’s success in its diversity efforts. In an article that relied on argument by assertion bolstered by carefully triaged word choice published on the organization’s website titled “Diversity in Gun Ownership Nothing New to Firearm Industry,” NSSF chief Larry Keane proclaimed:
Throw out the stereotypes on American gun ownership. They’re just wrong.
Against the backdrop of historically high firearm sales, one major theme is shattering misconceptions that America’s gun owners are ‘old white men.’ A surge in gun buyers across the country in 2020, more than 2.5 million since March alone, has boosted the diversity of the firearm-owning population.
While surprising to some, it’s not to those in the firearm industry. Today’s gun buyer looks more like the rest of America. They represent all walks of life and those buying firearms today increasingly are women, minorities and more urban than in previous generations. 72
Tying the organization’s outreach activities to its battle against gun violence prevention efforts, NSSF promised that “increasingly more voices of a diverse American gun owner are responding. The impacts will be significant on the future of Second Amendment rights in America.”73
Illustration from the NRA article “New Gun Owners and the Election”
These assertions were echoed by the NRA in October 2020 in an article titled “New Gun Owners and the Election” that appeared in the organization’s America’s 1st Freedom magazine. Promising that “no, not of all them look the same” and that it was no longer the case that “gun ownership is merely the preserve of white men,” the article argued that:
many of those new gun owners have a practical stake in the preservation of the Second Amendment, and in the prevention of draconian gun-control laws that attempt to criminalize their peaceful behavior and make scapegoats of the peaceful. Perhaps in the coming election, but certainly soon after, these alterations will yield a change in our political debate.74
71 “Gun-toting disabled woman with health condition appears in NRA video warning of effort to ‘exploit’ coronavirus pandemic,” Washington Examiner, March 21, 2020 (https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/gun-toting-disabled-woman-with-health-condition-appears-in-nra-video-warning-of-effort-to-exploit-coronavirus-pandemic).
72 “Diversity in Gun Ownership Nothing New to Firearm Industry,” National Shooting Sports Foundation, July 17, 2020 (https://www.nssf.org/diversity-in-gun-ownership-nothing-new-to-firearm-industry/).
73 “Diversity in Gun Ownership Nothing New to Firearm Industry,” National Shooting Sports Foundation, July 17, 2020 https://www.nssf.org/diversity-in-gun-ownership-nothing-new-to-firearm-industry/.
74 “New Gun Owners and the Election,” America’s 1st Freedom, October 2020 (https://www.americas1stfreedom.org/articles/2020/9/25/new-gun-owners-and-the-election/).