These 5 gun ads are alarming critics, changing laws

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Democrats and gun safety groups have seized on a series of gun advertisements over the last several years that they say represent unfair and deceptive marketing. That means the Federal Trade Commission should play a role in setting guardrails for the industry, they argue.

Groups like Giffords, Brady and March for Our Lives have filed petitions with the FTC; individuals also have lodged complaints about gun ads from companies that produced guns used in mass shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Uvalde, Texas. 

In response, the National Shooting Sports Foundation issued a letter to the FTC making the case for the gun industry. Some companies, like Smith & Wesson, outlined new advertising practices they say will ensure ads are directed toward law-abiding adults.

Investigation:USA TODAY pinpoints dramatic shift in gun company magazine advertisements

Here are five flashpoint ads: 

Wee1 Tactical

An Illinois gunmaker rolled out a .22 rifle in a scaled-down AR-15 aimed at children. The Wee1 Tactical JR-15 has drawn criticism from California Gov. Gavin Newsom and fueled a new law prohibiting its marketing.

Eric Schmid, WEE 1 Tactical’s owner at the 2022 NSSF SHOT Show.
We worked hard on that logo. It’s pretty exciting. That keeps the ‘wow’ factor with the kids, I think.

Super Sniper

Wilson Combat’s $2,500 “Urban Super Sniper” model rifle is so precise its .223 caliber rounds can hit within an inch at 100 yards. This is the ad that stuck with Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., and led him to introduce a bill that would direct the FTC to clamp down on gun ads. He says there is no legal scenario for an urban sniper rifle.

Bushmaster

An ad campaign from Remington’s Bushmaster brand was tethered to the Sandy Hook shooting and led to a $73 million settlement with Remington’s insurers. That outcome is widely seen as opening the door to other legal challenges over the way gun manufacturers market their weapons.

Daniel Defense

The maker of the AR-style rifle used in the Uvalde shooting has become known in the industry for pushing the limit on gun advertising. The CEO pulled an ad featuring a child after the shooting, although he said “it had a good message.” Congress has seized on its ads depicting military tactical operators and a child as evidence of the need for more regulation.

Smith & Wesson

Smith & Wesson’s ads have been criticized for appearing like popular first-person shooter games like Call of Duty. The company has been called before Congress and has been the subject of a subpoena for its marketing practices. The company’s CEO this week called it an “unprecedented and unjustified attack.”

Mark Smith, President and CEO of Smith & Wesson.
…Some now seek to prohibit firearm manufacturers and supporters of the 2nd Amendment from advertising in a manner designed to remind law-abiding citizens that they have a Constitutional right to bear arms in defense of themselves and their families.

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