New VPC Study Exposes Gun Industry’s Marketing Tactics While Exploding Myths Concerning Women and Firearms Violence

For Release: Thursday, December 1, 1994

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released Female Persuasion: A Study of How the Firearms Industry Markets to Women and the Reality of Women and Guns, a first-of-its-kind study detailing the marketing campaign of the firearms industry (manufacturers, trade associations, and lobby organizations) to American women. The study also explores four of the most common myths about violence against women that permeate firearms industry outreach efforts: stranger rape; firearms homicide and its relation to domestic violence; firearms suicide; and the effectiveness of handguns for self-defense. Much of the information gathered for the study was taken from an extensive three-year survey of industry publications.

The 82-page study was released at a Capitol Hill press conference held in Rayburn HOB Room 2222 at 12:00 P.M. on Thursday, December 1 with House Crime Subcommittee Chair Representative Charles Schumer (D-NY).

Susan Glick, VPC health policy analyst and study author states, “Having saturated the male market, the gun industry is now trying to scare American women into the belief that the mere possession of a handgun guarantees security and personal empowerment. Recent efforts to peddle this myth to women are more than a matter of selling shopworn goods. It is a bad solution to a real problem, one guaranteed to make it worse, not better.”

Female Persuasion also: illustrates that while stranger attack is a key selling point to the women’s market, women are most likely to be raped, assaulted, or murdered by someone known to them and that the majority of rape victims are not even of legal age to purchase or possess a handgun; shows that like men, women are now killing themselves most often with firearms; demonstrates that handguns are in fact rarely used by women to kill in self-defense, and that when they do, it is rarely to protect against a stranger, and that advocating firearms ownership as an effective means of protection merely increases the risk of death.

The study reveals that while in its general advertising the firearms industry professes a concern for women’s safety, in industry trade journals this pretense is abandoned. The study cites a Colt’s Manufacturing Company ad that appeared in Ladies Home Journal for its “All-American” 9mm pistol. The ad featured a mother tucking her child into bed. A Raggedy Ann doll is in the little girl’s hands. The headline states, “Self-Protection is more than your right… it’s your responsibility.” The same advertisement later appeared as the centerpiece of a second ad published in the industry trade journal S.H.O.T. Business. Above it the headline read: “You Might Think This Ad is About Handguns. It’s Really About Doubling Your Business.”

Adds Glick, “Female Persuasion will be a key tool in countering the cynical marketing efforts of the gun industry while at the same time acting as a catalyst to involve women and advocacy organizations in America’s firearms violence debate.”




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