Massacre Marketing: Why the NRA is Clouding the Discourse on American Gun Violence

So now you’d better stop
and rebuild all your ruins.
For peace and trust can win the day
despite of all your losing.

-Led Zeppelin, “Immigrant Song”, on the radio of a police cruiser pulling over the Charleston mass-murderer


I don’t think guns should be totally outlawed in the United States. That would be dumb. The reason I’m prefacing this is that people are used to the debate being guns vs. no guns. I’m not arguing in favor of either side of that debate. There is no threat guns will be banned.  The gun industry wants people to think there’s always a threat that guns will be banned, because if people think that, they buy guns. This entire article was written 8 feet away from a beautiful old Winchester model 12-16.


Mass shootings in the United States happen more often per year than NFL games. defines the term mass shooting as an incident where 4 or more people are at least wounded by bullets. A mass murder, according to the FBI, is when 4 or more people are killed in a single incident. Even as the violent crime rate has decreased since the 1990s, some shithead somewhere is going around with a gun and shooting it at multiple people quite often in our country.

One or two massacres per year become attention-generating mass media events, evoking mass anger, fear, confusion, and disillusionment. Fearful consumers are easily swayed. And that’s where the gun dealers come in.

gunsnammoThe firearms industry enjoys a spike in sales in the aftermath of a massacre (in addition to pocketing the profit from the murder weapon, as the majority of guns used in mass murders are legally-obtained). Gun sales surged following the massacres in Aurora and Newtown. Since gun ownership is declining in the United States, there’s every indication that post-massacre surges in gun sales are due to previous gun owners adding to their collection, stockpiling an arsenal for fear the government will enact gun control legislation.

The leadership of the nonprofit National Rifle Association essentially functions as an indirect lobbying and marketing department for the gun industry, receiving millions of dollars per year from gun manufacturers.

Here are two of the NRA’s most popular gun marketing tactics.

NRA Gun Marketing Message #1: Good Guys Buy Guns to Stop Bad Guys. Are You A Good Guy? Then Where’s Your Gun?

During national tragedies, NRA propagandists like VP Wayne LaPierre typically issue poorly written action-movie tagline statements such as “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”  That’s not even a fully formed action-movie tagline, it’s a skeleton. Even Cobra had better writing: “Crime is the disease. Meet the cure.” Stallone can write, but he’s on the NRA’s list of anti-gunners, along with Arnold Schwartzenegger. But not every Hollywood action film star understands their movies are pretend. Did you know that a million years ago Chuck Norris kicked a horse in the neck, and its descendents are known as giraffes? Chuck Norris is an NRA spokesman and star of Walker, Texas Ranger: “Walker, a Texas ranger, believes in dealing with the bad guys the old fashioned way, by fighting them.” I wonder where LaPierre gets his brilliant lines.

In a recent response to the Charleston Massacre, Chuck Norris took the “good guys and bad guys” storyline even further, suggesting pastors should buy guns to protect their flock:

I have a challenge for pastors and church leaders. With all due respect, it’s about time that they woke up to the idea that providing for and protecting God’s flock means increasing church security, from children’s classes to main sanctuaries and fellowship halls.

Chuck Norris goes on to say “violent crimes are increasing everywhere” which is bullshit. Violent crime has gone down, according to the FBI. Chuck Norris must’ve taken too many hi-ya Bruce Lee chops to the head.

Civilians rarely disarm mass murdering gunmen. In fact, guns are rarely used by citizens in self-defense at all. Following the Aurora massacre, as well as the recent massacre in Charleston, the NRA made up some more bullshit about the shooter picking his location because it had a “Gun Free Zone” sign. In the case of Charleston, the shooter picked the church because of its historical/racial significance. In the case of Aurora, there is no evidence that the murderer picked the movie theater because it banned guns.

NRA Gun Marketing Message #2: The Government is Going to Take Your Guns Away, So Buy While You Can! Limited Time Only!

The NRA/gun industry hit the jackpot when Barack Obama became president. The threat of a black “Democrat president” stealing whitey’s guns to start a race war was a surefire indicator to buy stock in Smith and Wesson.  Never mind that Barack Obama did absolutely nothing in the way of gun control, and in fact signed pro-gun bills into law allowing gun owners to carry in National Parks and on Amtrak. One can never let reality get in the way of effective fear-based marketing.

And then there was this crappy infomercial from 2012:

Never mind that the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty had absolutely nothing to do with civilian gun ownership, and would not have affected any US laws including the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution in any way whatsoever. Anyone paying attention in elementary school social studies understands that’s not even how the UN fucking works. It was obvious the NRA was trying to drum up fear based on a bullshit premise to get consumers to buy more guns.

The gun industry of course would rather ignore evidence in favor of aggressively marketing their product. Which is a very natural thing for a business to do, but the gun industry and its marketing department, the NRA, should keep its sleazy salesman mouth shut when we’re trying to have a reality-based discussion about our national gun violence problem.  We can have a separation of church and state, but is a separation of marketing and state ever possible?

The majority of Americans, including Americans who are card-carrying members of the NRA, support some form of sensible gun control. A majority of gun owners and NRA members aren’t in the business of marketing guns. But the voices of the NRA members in favor of rational gun control are drown out by the sleazy salesmen in the NRA leadership.

We can’t talk about anything these days without some some bullshit marketing angle clouding up the discourse. Wherever there’s a problem, an argument, a conflict, an issue, there are greedy acerbic assholes trying to butt in and peddle their snake oil.  The NRA leadership is not representative of most of its members because it’s too busy marketing for its donors. Our own government is no longer representative of the People for the same reason.  These scumbag fear marketers won’t stop until they pimp out the entire culture. We need to identify the difference between advertising and discussion, and ignore the marketers and their fantasies so we can get to the business of Reality and solve horrible problems like American gun violence.

They are the disease. And We are the cure.

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