The NPR piece Why The AR-15 Is More Than Just a Gun starts off all pro-AR-15-like. I’m a vet not a nut, my wife and I love ’em, etc. On the other hand, one wonders if Ailsa Chang’s decision to use a vet whose been on “multiple combat tours” is meant to undermine the argument by encouraging listeners to think “Hmmm. PTSD much?” Maybe that’s just me being paranoid. Or not. ‘Cause midway through this piece the author riffs on the AR’s Mr. Potato Head-like modularity: “But this Mr. Potato Head is deadly. The AR-15 was the gun used by Adam Lanza when he opened fire in Newtown, Conn., last December. Twenty-six people were killed, including 20 first-graders. Everyone was shot more than once — as many as 11 times. And that’s what the military wanted out of this gun — the ability to kill even without good aim, a weapon with high-capacity ammunition magazines that could spray bullets within close to medium range.” It gets worse . . .
“Those design features in a civilian market have horrific consequences,” says Tom Diaz, a gun control advocate who has long followed the commercialization of military firearms. “So you can call it whatever you want — tactical rifle, black rifle, assault rifle, modern sporting rifle. It has the capability that the military wanted for warfare.”
Sr. Diaz is the author of The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry Are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It, wherein a “widely respected activist and policy analyst—as well as a former gun enthusiast and an ex-member of the National Rifle Association . . . presents a chilling, up-to-date survey of the changed landscape of gun manufacturing and marketing.” Including an entire chapter on the dangers of civilians owning a Barrett 50-cal.
Anyway, not so widely respected in these parts, eh Mr. Bond? Why would he be? Diaz lays down the anti-gun tropes like a soldier “spraying” covering fire in a fierce gun battle. Specifically, he returns to one of his book’s main themes: “Aggressive ‘hyper-marketing’ of increasingly lethal weapons by a faltering industry.” NPR regurgitates the drivel without complaint.
In advertisements for these guns, there’s a common message: Get in touch with your inner G.I. Joe. For example, a web commercial from Sig Sauer features soldiers in combat boots crouching with their assault rifles next to military Humvees.
Bazinet says, despite these ads, the gun industry is not driving the market for military-style weapons — instead, it’s the consumers who are clamoring for them.
But gun control advocates aren’t buying that. Diaz says the industry is filling a demand it was forced to create. Data from the General Social Survey, a public opinion survey conducted every two years, show the percentage of American households that own guns is declining. Diaz says kids these days would rather pick up a video game than a hunting rifle.
“It’s just a fact that hunting has been in serious decline, so those kinds of guns just don’t sell as well,” he says. “Well, you’re in business, you got to sell something. These assault rifles — these military-style rifles — appeal to a broader range of people.”
So he says the industry pounced on these products to stay relevant. With fewer households to sell to, Diaz says gun makers have to keep coming up with newer, sleeker, more high-tech weapons for people who already own guns.
I guess Diaz (or NPR) dialed-back on the phrase “increasingly lethal,” lest both he and NPR be taken to task for saying really stupid things like . . . “Mr. Potato Head is deadly.” Which begs the question: who’s going to design the T-shirt for that one? And can someone please get Don Rickles to voice-over an animated short along the same lines?