Although much attention has been focused on drug traffickers and paramilitary extremists, many assault weapons are purchased by “just plain folk.” These people run the gamut from survivalists who want to be ready “just in case” to gun owners who want the thrill of owning the latest high-tech weapons.
A 1986 Defense Monitor on “Militarism in America,” published by the Center for Defense Information (CDI), in Washington, D.C., notes an increasing “fascination for paramilitary weapons and training” among the general public.
Television shows such as “The A-Team,” first broadcast on ABC in 1983, “Miami Vice,” first broadcast on NBC in 1984, and other action/adventure/police dramas have acted as a showcase for new weaponry. In effect, the shows supply free advertising for assault weapons manufacturers.
The Center for Media and Public Affairs, based in Washington, D.C., monitored 620 television programs throughout the past 30 years, revealing a noticeable shift toward military-style assault weapons.
According to Daniel Amundson, research director for The Center, “There certainly is a greater number of automatic weaponry,” and this is “partly reflecting news from the front pages and partly reflecting artistic embellishment.” Noting that the guns have been “ever present” in television, Amundson adds, “The presence hasn’t changed, but which ones are present has. ‘Miami Vice’ requires very sleek and modern weapons. This shows a reflection of the headlines. If drug lords are using more UZIs and MAC-10s, you’re going to see it in ‘Miami Vice’ six to nine months later.”
According to Amundson, television has a “tremendous potential to act as a marketplace for anything: weapons, violence, soap, attitudes toward blacks and women. Television has helped the average person to identify weapons more than we’d ever thought, expanded our knowledge, terminology, of the types of guns available. UZI, MAC-10 is no longer jargon for firearms specialists; and that tells us a great deal.”
Meanwhile, in movie theaters, the .44 magnum handgun of Clint Eastwood pales in comparison to the weapons of Rambo and his ilk. Throughout the 1980s, Sylvester Stallone films such as the Rambo series and “Cobra,” Chuck Norris movies such as the “Missing in Action” series and “Invasion USA,” and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies such as “Terminator,” “Predator,” and “Commando” have helped popularize paramilitary weapons and accessories.
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