Reader Josh P. writes:

I know that sounds crazy, but I believe that they have brought a substantial amount of people into the world of guns that probably wouldn’t have ever fired one otherwise. As much as we love to hate these things as ridiculous and unrealistic, the fact is that, like it or not, they have swelled our ranks. Nothing but a vast amount of political pressure from not only organizations like the NRA, but from individuals as well, could have stopped the amendments in the Senate yesterday. The fight is obviously not over, but at least that particular battle was won. Time to give credit where it’s due?

63 Responses to Question of the Day: Did ‘Call of Duty,’ ‘Top Shot’ and the Zombie Craze Save Gun Rights?

  1. I say this is at least a contributing factor. Not only do the games bring people into the gun world but they bring in tech savvy folks that connect on the web and bring their power to bear much quicker and more precisely than the old days.

    I’ve never played video games, but i recognize their power.

  2. Probably not zombies, at least not a large percentage. Most people I know who are most caught up in zombie movies and the like are not the type to own a fire arm (or at least vote based on gun rights), and most of the people I know who own firearms aren’t into the zombie craze (Walking Dead not withstanding).

    • I disagree. I feel the zombie meme was much more of an attention-getter than the others. At some level, most people know that it’s a metaphor for an unforeseen happening that quickly spirals out of control.

      As such, I think it speaks loudest to the average citizen, and needs to be given due credit. It also sparked a wildfire of crossbow-buying that’s never been seen before.

      • I thought zombies were a metaphor for the mindless complacency of society, and the insatiable appetite for brains was a metaphor for insatiable consumerism.

    • I would disagree, too. If the two are such separate groups, why all the zombie targets at the ranges I frequent? Why the Hornady Z-max zombie bullets (silly, I know, but they only work in a real gun). Why the zombie torsos that bleed when shot? My buds and I enjoy both firearms and zombie nonsense. And indeed “zombies” stand for any potential mass catastrophe situation without running the risk of being politically incorrect…so far.

      • I think alot of people see the Zombie fad from the outside and mentaly compare two catastrophes: Japan’s calm reaction to their Nuclear disaster with New Orleans’s riotous compounding of Katrina damage. I don’t blame the Zombie thing, but I think it scares some into siding with gun-control.

        • Now that I can see. As a metaphor for societal collapse, it can spur people to prepare for the worst.

      • But did you, or know someone, came to guns specifically because of zombies in the media? Or were you a gun guy/gal who think the zombie stuff is neat? I shoot at zombie targets too, but only because it’s cooler than the tin cans I shot as a kid.

    • The thing most zombie movie fans like the most about the movies isn’t the gore, the violence, or anything of that nature. In almost every zombie movie (The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later stand out the most to me) the protagonists end up fighting not zombies, but other survivors. An effort is made to paint not the zombies as evil, but OTHER PEOPLE as evil. This is widely used to suggest the true monsters are among us. Believing this is why a lot of people own guns. So on that note, it may have helped.

  3. I hadn’t given it a moment’s thought until I just read this; I can’t argue against it. Anything that brings people safely into the fold is good for the cause, while it may not be my cup of tea. Welcome aboard, and thanks to them!

  4. I would say it has. As a military-crazed child I was into guns from a young age, but my younger brothers never developed an interest in firearms until the likes of Call of Duty came along and one of them is heavily into the whole Zombie thing. My ten year old nephew has developed an interest in firearms due to Call of Duty and Battlefield 3 (funny story, his birthday is coming up and his mother, my sister, asked him what he wanted. He said, “I want a gun”, she said “No way.” He then countered with, “How about a pistol?”). I would also add YouTube videos as a recruiting tool, with the likes of videos by Hickok .45, Corey and Erika, Mr Colion Noir and even FPSRussia drawing new people into guns.

  5. I think they all helped get people to stop being afraid of guns and interested in learning how to shoot them as well. Lets take the opportunity to teach them to do it safely and responsibility.
    It also made me realize if I could put a bayonet on my 10/22 it would be the perfect zombie gun. ( for “Walking dead” type zombies not “zombieland” type zombies). Think about it…..fast, light, kind of quiet, easy to carry lots of ammo.

    • Where can you find lots of .22? Anyways I know 1 guy that got his concealed weapons permit due to “zombies”

  6. A doubtful maybe. You can make a case for Call of Duty but that is just the electronic version of boomers playing soldier with their toy Tommy Guns and M-14s, cowboys and indians or cops and robbers in parks and playgrounds in the 1950s and 1960s.

    • I agree with your skepticism. But I’d give it a little more credit; Video games take up the slack in a world where toy guns are shunned, playing “Colonialists vs Peaceful-Indigenous” is outlawed and local public ranges are being zoned out. But it’s a double edged sword at best.

      • Call of Duty is the new Western. For all the people who grew up wanting a six shooter or a lever gun because of Bonanza or things of that short, this is my generation’s equivalent. It’s just M4s and AKs instead.

  7. For me, it was Sons of Guns. 2 years later, I watch an episode of it with my kid brother and realized how dumbed down (emphasis on the “dumb”) it is, but it got me interested in guns and caused me to buy my first one at the age of 22 (I had shot a round of skeet once when I was 17, only time I had ever shot a gun). 2 years and 3 more guns later, I’m hooked and I’m all for any media that gets people interested in shooting.

  8. Not COD. COD is turning women against guns all across the land– it creates division between parents and children, boyfriends and girlfriends, etc. And I think one day we’ll find out that COD also sparked something in the mentally ill Lanza. I don’t ever want video games banned, but let’s not give them credit either.

    • Jay the only thing dividing kids and parents are parents who are to weak to say no or just dont care to.

      Two weeks ago I was in McCallisters for lunch. A mother and two kids were at the table across from me, the kids were about 7 years old. All three of them were playing on smart phones, one kid had a phone AND tablet. There was no conversation or family time even when they ate.

      • They will IM each other, while being at the same table.

        It will be interesting to see how this plays out as we approach the singularity. (And by ‘interesting’ I mean in the Chinese curse sense.)

  9. I have to say yes it has made a difference. I grew up in an anti gun family in Connecticut so my only means of enjoying firearms was through games and movies. Robocop and Aliens were by far the best gun movies of my childhood (IMO).

    I have to admit though that most people I know who are big in to zombies do not care for guns though.

  10. I fully agree that the video games properly portraying gun handling and modern firearms have had an impact on the number of owners and the interest in modern designs. Eventually I suspect that so many people will be disgusted with the inability to own new full-auto firearms will gather enough support together to reopen the registry so arbitrarily closed in 1986.

  11. As the father of a son in his early 20’s, yeah, big difference. Several of his friends, from non gun homes, are into shooting sports. Yes, they think the zombie thing is cool. Everything hi tech. (My son picked up a Mossberg 464 spx last year). I even like shooting it, nice ergonomics for fit.

  12. Absolutely. It give people a somewhat inexpensive ($60 is crazy!) way to get a feel and an “experience” with weapons that they were raised to fear.
    I think the Zombie craze, while wearing thin for a lot of us, is great PR. It’s guns being used for their primary purpose: survival and protection. They’re not criminals or murderers, the heroes of zombiepocalypse fiction are just trying to protect their friends and families from a horde that wants to do them in. I think people can connect to that very easily.

  13. Maybe. When I was a craven yoot, I was initially drawn into the milieu by cowboy movies and war movies. It’s not unreasonable to believe that shooting games might stoke the same coals today.

    • The first season was kinda ok, but as always happens with “reality” tv, if the first season goes well, Pilgrim turns it into American Chopper garbage.

      By the second season the staging and results manipulation was so painfully transparent and obvious that it became really hard to sit through an episode without doing an Elvis on the TV. Not to mention that Colby dolt as a host, who everyone wants to choke out just on general principles.

      So much potential for that show, so sad the results. But hey, if it gets people shooting, I’ll take it.

  14. I expect the popular “resistance” dramas on television may have also helped a bit such as the Walking Dead and Falling Skies. While I dont watch Revolution I remember from the pilot one of the plot devices was a governmental style warlord who disarmed the people for their own safety and made gun ownership punishable by death. Maybe that show is popular enough to be a factor though I know nothing about it save the pilot episode.

  15. I would say, in this era of Suburbia and major urban centers where most people can’t simply go out into the woods with their fathers and shoot the ole 22 rifle that video games ARE most young peoples first introduction to firearms besides TV. I will be the first to admit a video game is the first thing that turned me on the P226.
    In this era of online videos and video games people like FPS Russia or games like Call of Duty are ground zero for bringing young people closer to firearms.

  16. “Dem violent video games” got me here. And it might sound weird but zombies really got me into guns. More precisely, disaster preparedness.

    • Now that sort of “Zombies got me into it” I can understand, and maybe I’m over thinking my point above.

  17. I believe video games played a big part in for gun right. My proof of this is the Nissan Skyline being known in the US. Very few people ever heard of it till the game Gran Turismo. Nissan started to offer an american version, when it became more common knowledge. When people found they could get a rifle like one in the video game everyone wanted one.

  18. Anything that normalizes firearms counteracts the constant vilification from the grabbers.

    My generation grew up on Combat, Wanted Dead Or Alive, Have Gun Will Travel, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett… I could go on and on. And cops when I was a kid would NEVER react with the absolute terror I’ve witnessed in so many of these YouTubed confrontations between gun owners and the police. Guns were a fact of life, not an aberration.

    We had huge flocks of starlings when I was a boy. Every evening they would began to roost in a huge maple on our property. My dad or I (I took over starling patrol at the ripe old age of twelve, after receiving a 12 gauge side-by-side from granddad for my birthday.) would walk outside and give them a couple of Number 8s. They would fly to another roosting tree a couple blocks away. Soon we would hear a couple BOOM, BOOMs from down the block. The BOOMs would travel across town till, after 15 – 20 minutes it would be our turn again as they circled back around.

    Now this was a small country town in Central Illinois, not the wilds of Montana. Population of about 1,500. And this was pretty much a nightly thing throughout the summer. Can you imagine the response to such an event today? 42 swat teams and DHS. Probably the National Guard. Especially if involving a 12 year old! (Save the Children!) And I was nothing special. I maybe moved up in power in my firearms a little quicker than some, had some good training very early, but not unique at all. I can picture the headlines on MSNBC, “Small Midwestern Town Held Hostage To Violence!!!” But the thing is, it was NORMAL behavior.

    Oh, by the way. No one was ever injured in this nightly orgy of “gun violence”.

    I am emphatically not a fan of most first person shooters, I think they desensitize people to violence. My dad made the same argument against Gunsmoke. But the violence was climatic, not constant, there wasn’t the gore, and there was always a moral lesson attempted. But the video games also normalize guns. As do the various shows featuring firearms.

    Maybe a net gain overall.

    • I’m from that same(ish) world. There was something very wrong with you if your parents didn’t trust you with your own gun by age 12.

  19. Personally, I have never heard anyone claim that video games or television shows started them on the path to firearms ownership and activism.

    Regardless, it seems like those “gateway” options can do nothing but help our cause.

  20. Definitely has some contribution. Cant say the new group is the smartest though, but damn at least there helping.

  21. Honestly not sure about the effect FPS games have had on the mindset of the country. But I think we do need to give a show like Top Shot credit. We’ve all had issues with the show but the bottom line is that Top Shot showcased firearms in the way that most of use actively use them: Having a good (and safe) time using marvelously engineered tools.

  22. Ooh, I just thought of the National Geographic Channel’s series titled Doomsday Preppers. I have to think that is getting people into firearms as well.

    • I was into guns as a hobby, nothing more, I wasn’t politically active in regards to the 2A issues, until my wife started watching Doomsday Preppers. She said “Honey, I don’t feel safe without a gun in the house” and that was all the permission I needed. I took to it with a passion that lit up my life, I learned the history of firearms, the history of the second amendment, and everything in between. I started learning about some home gunsmithing, like refinishing stocks or replacing parts like magazine springs, recoil springs, extractors, etc…

      While Doomsday Preppers didn’t get me into guns, it got my wife into them in a way that allowed me to indulge my passion.

  23. Video games got me into black rifles. I was brought up on pump actions and bolt actions and then i picked up Call of Duty 4 in 2007, and the second i realized i could have my very own M4 with an ACOG, i was in, and i know plenty more people that had it not been for video games, they’d have no interest in firearms at all. Embrace the Mall ninjas and zombie hunters! They’re your friends, they’re young, energetic and more importantly not FUDD’s. You know how easily you can horrify a liberal when the young people that voted for them are telling them to fuck off trying to take away their “Call of Duty guns”? You don’t have to like their taste in regards to 16 lbs of accessories on their AR’s, but keep in mind THEY WANT AR’s!

  24. Well, you’ve got one right here. Video games, particularly Call of Duty and Rainbow Six: Vegas, got me interested in shooting recreationally, which forced me to become familiar with gun laws and exposed me to “gun culture,” which made it suddenly very easy to see through all the media spin, ignorance and B.S. behind attacks on gun rights.

    I’ve taken my gamer friends shooting, and at least two of them own firearms now; one got a carry permit. I’ve personally read every post here at TTAG since Newtown to keep a close watch on legislation and to learn the occasional cool new thing from reviews and other “fun” articles. I’ve been contacting my legislators and teaching friends & coworkers to see past rhetoric and evaluate gun law proposals based on what they actually might accomplish as we’ll as what they’ll cost. I think it helps that I don’t at all fit the stereotypes of a gun owner (I still smile to think of one friend calling me a “strange hippie”); none of the usual labels fit, and I’m patient & calm when I discuss guns, gun laws & freedom, so it’s got to be more challenging to dismiss what I have to say outright.

    So, yes, video games were the stepping stone for me to become familiar with guns, to be a responsible gun owner and to respect and defend that freedom for myself and others. Obama can blame politics and interest groups all he likes, but he’s delusional to think that the NRA brainwashed me into fearfully badgering my senators into fearing for their reelection. No, I simply invested hundreds of hours of my own time to inform myself and to weigh gun law proposals both what they would cost in terms of freedoms vs. what we might gain in terms of safety, and I independently came to the conclusion that none of the gun control proposals was a worthwhile tradeoff. And then I contacted my Senators & Representatives to politely and succinctly tell them why. I got more involved in politics for this one issue than I ever have for any other, and right now I feel like I may have made some small difference. Score one for freedom, in any case.

  25. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been to the range and heard “That’s in Call of Duty! That’s awesome!” and “Wasn’t that in [insert movie here]?”.

    I think there is some truth to this article.

  26. i certainly got into guns playing counterstrike in college, and of course watching some zombie movies and walking dead.

    but that’s fairly surface level. to be fighting for 2A takes a much more dedicated and responsible person.

  27. I was the opposite. I grew with games like Mario, Pokemon, and Zelda. My gun interest later shifted me to Battlefield and similar games. It’s cool to see at least simulate using the non-neutered versions of the guns you can get. I also like tv shows that have a certain amount of gun “porn” to them like Ghost in the Shell, even if it is an Anime, where you can tell what the gun is, see how it works, and is generally portrayed realistically. Incidentally my dream pistol is the one from Trigun, a six-o’clock break open with spring loaded ejection but preferably in .357 rather than the .45 colt.

  28. The game series Fallout got me into guns.

    How? No idea. The series does not do things realisticly.

    But after getting my.brains bashed in by a wielding a pipe one too many times, I started to think ‘It never hurts to be prepared’.

  29. In a word…Yes, but…

    I think the majority of the backbone of gun culture come from three groups: the Hunter/Fudd types, the Military/LE types, and the sport/competetion shooters. These groups make the largest contribution to the general gun population…as they tend to pass along thier trade/craft/hobby from generation to generation.

    Things like the zombie craze, video games, movies, gun blogs and vloggers…all contribute to the addition of new blood to the culture. If it were an influence graph, this would be the middle where the people of the gun and people from mainstream society meet. Some join up with us, some don’t. But yes, all these influence the growth of our culture.

  30. I believe they have. What got me interested in the AR platform, the driving factor in the popularity of guns in the last decade or more, was the fact that I was told in 1994 that I couldn’t have one. So I bought one. After the AWB was allowed to sunset, I modified it in a way I was previously told I couldn’t. Now I own multiple AR’s. I found out they are fun to shoot, and so did many others. The many television shows about guns and the proliferation of fun shooting events have affected the culture in a positive way. And if Andrew Breitbart taught us anything, it was that culture is key in winning political fights. And we are winning.

  31. 100+ Million people play COD, I’m sure a ton of them now have or want “black” guns because of it.

  32. Yes, yes, and yes. I took a number of kids shooting who wanted hands on experience with what they saw on Call of Duty. My 13 year old neighbor’s son asked permission to go out to the range to shoot with me after he found out I owned an AR15 and an Xbox. Long story short I introduced him and his father to the wonderful world of guns. He now owns a S&W M&P22. I have repeated the process with younger cousins and children of friends.
    On the Zombie guns, I find them silly, but the popularity of shows like Walking Dead and movies like Zombieland made people curious. I setup a zombie themed 3gun match at a friends ranch with zombie targets. 5 non gun owners attended, had a blast with Augs and AR’s and 2 now own guns.
    Finally any TV that portrays professional shooters and guns in particular in a positive light is a good thing.
    Those are just my anecdotal evidence, but I hope more use whatever means necessary to bring new shooters to the fold.

  33. I was into firearms L-O-N-G before FPS games were popular. I was always interested in military technology and how some equipment evolved from requirements while other equipment provided a tactical innovation from their adoption. It started from planes while I was 8 years old. Then came tanks, ships, submarines, and small arms. I kept chasing cross-references and kept learning. I started shooting in the late 1980s when introduced properly by a friend while at University.

    In the early to late 2000s, I was LAN-gaming with friends playing Medal Of Honor, Call Of Duty, Day of Defeat (mod for Half-Life and Counter-Strike). About 3/4ths were either active target shooters (in service rifle), and/or current serving military regulars or reservists. We played the games so often we ended up downloading maps more suited to our number of players, different skins for the players, and mods to alter the gameplay.

    And I still load up a FPS game occasionally. Either STALKER Shadow of Chernobyl or Call of Pripyat, or the zombies game in Call Of Duty Black Ops II. But not when my nearly 5 year old son is around, as he goes to the range with me and I don’t want him to get a wrong idea about firearms.

  34. I think they definitely help. There is a mental disconnect in many young minds in America (I know because I was afflicted by it), especially in CA where I am, where your mind is somewhat convinced that guns are illegal. I think it was walking into a Big 5 for some hiking gears one day that finally made me remember “hey, you really like guns, there are a bunch for sale over there, go buy one.”

    I have personally then had the pleasure of taking other friends shooting and see them purchase their own guns. It’s contagiously-good fun. It’s great to be able to say “hey you know your favorite gun from ____? Want to go shoot one?”.

  35. I had an interest in guns before video games the zombies or TV Shows such as Topshot and Sons of Guns. However growing up as a city boy with no direct line going back to hunting and the such in my life I never shot a gun till I was in my Mid 20’s. I will say that as I started watching Topshot and Sons of Guns I did get more into guns untill I finally purchased my first one. So while it may not have been the intial spark that started my interest in guns, it has been a part of the fuel that kept that interest going.

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