Thursday, July 28, 2005

Industry Outreach to Non-Gunnies

Sometimes I swear it’s a great time to be a gunnie (granted, other times I wonder if we’ll ever win our rights back). Here’s an article in the Wall Street Journal written by Mark Fritz that makes today a very good day to be a gunnie.

It seems like the firearms industry is finally shaking itself out of its doldrums and undertaking aggressive marketing campaigns. The industry is reaching out to younger people, to non-hunters, to woman, and those who’ve never owned guns before.

I've noticed that gun advertising is reaching out in different directions than in the past. For instance, I’ve noticed more ads for women appearing in gun magazines. Fritz’s article shows a picture of a Smith & Wesson ad showing a young woman alone in the wilderness. The model is perched on a canyon rim showing her athleticism but also a hint of vulnerability. To my untrained eye, it’s a masterful ad.

The article also discusses how gun makers are turning out more powerful guns and more easy to carry guns for concealed carry. They recognize a demand and are meeting it. Fritz uses a Violence Policy Center term when it mentions a “pocket rockets to tuck into your Dockers,” but it has a ring to it. Speaking of VPC, Smith & Wesson sales benefited when VPC attacked the .500 S&W Magnum. In fact, the original model was so successful that the company put out different models.

One marketing strategy aims at attracting people who’ve been fearful of guns. The way gun makers are doing so raises my eyebrow a bit. Makers are adding safety features to handguns. SigArms now markets the “safest handgun in the world,” a Mauser semi-auto pistol with seven internal and external safety features. Their audience is people who live in concealed carry states, but aren’t yet comfortable with guns. Hence, all the safety features.

I don’t like a lot of switches on my guns. I detest a magazine disconnect which prevents a gun from firing without a magazine in place. But, if this and other “safety” features help convince a newly-minted gunnie to buy a gun, then bring them on--just don’t take away my choices in the marketplace.

I think the industry is waking up to the fact that most gun owners aren’t hunters and is taking steps to attract non-gunnies to gun ownership. Personally, I'd like to see ads on television during network prime-time (Sarah Brady would faint). It remains to be seen how effective gun makers will be and if they’ll stay the course, but it’s heartening to see such a positive development.

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