When you’ve got your own in-house law firm funded by your billionaire backer, its easy to waste time and effort on unserious efforts, which helps explain Everytown’s new complaint against Georgia gunmaker Daniel Defense accusing it of “deceptively marketing” firearms to teenagers through its advertising and brand placement in video games and movies. More fundamentally, however, the gun control group’s filing with the Federal Trade Commission is part of a broader strategy aimed at shutting down gun companies, and the complaint against Daniel Defense is only the latest in a string of similar filings against members of the firearms industry in recent months
We’ll get to those prior complaints in a few paragraphs, but first let’s delve into Everytown’s ridiculous assertions.
Daniel Defense has leaned on social media, especially Instagram, which has a young user-base, to promote its weapons, the complaint says, and the company does not restrict access to its accounts to users who are old enough to buy its products.
In one Instagram post, for example, the company featured a picture of Post Malone holding one of its rifles with the caption: “MK18 got me feeling like a rockstar.”
Another post, from the same day as the Uvalde shooting, promoted the DDM4 V7 model rifle — the same one the gunman would later use — with the hashtag “loadout,” a term for the gear a soldier carries into battle that the complaint says is a reference to “Call of Duty,” a game the shooter reportedly played. The company also often uses hashtags such as #callofduty and #cod to make its “Call of Duty” references on social media, the complaint says.
That’s it? Post Malone and Call of Duty?
I’m a soon-to-be 48-year old who listens to Post Malone (ironically after my wife, who’s nine years my senior, turned me on to his music) and played Call of Duty and other first-person shooters for years until fairly recently, and I’m far from alone. In fact, according to data on Call of Duty demographics, only about 1/4 of all players are younger than 25, which makes sense given the game’s “M” rating. Everytown has absolutely no evidence that Daniel Defense is intentionally marketing its firearms to younger teenagers, which frankly would be a terrible business strategy given that you can’t even purchase a rifle until you’re 18-years old. And if Daniel Defense is marketing its products to adults under the age of 21 there shouldn’t be an actionable issue since that age group is able to lawfully purchase and possess a long gun under federal law.
This complaint has less to do with Daniel Defense specifically and much more to do with the gun control lobby’s attack on the firearms industry as a whole.
Everytown has filed multiple complaints in recent years against Smith & Wesson, alleging the company uses deceptive practices to market its rifles to young, male consumers in a similar way. Smith & Wesson rifles were used by gunmen in Parkland in 2018 and Aurora, Colo., in 2012. The man accused of killing seven people in Highland Park on July 4 allegedly used a Smith & Wesson rifle, as well.
“The FTC has effectively given the gun industry a free pass,” advocacy groups wrote earlier this year as they petitioned the agency to investigate the industry’s marketing.
The groups, including Brady, the Giffords Law Center, March for Our Lives and the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce, argued inaction has “allowed the gun industry to spend decades using unfair and deceptive advertising to sell deadly weapons to an American public that has been falsely led to believe that gun ownership is a safe way to protect their home and family.”
The complaint against Daniel Defense says the industry at large has sought to appeal to young buyers.
It cites efforts by The National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry group, to promote shooting sports as “cool” activities for young people, and quotes materials from the group saying: “Although peer pressure and influence are often thought of in a negative context, such influence can often mean a positive effect on youth.”
That’s right. The gun control lobby wants gun makers fined for promoting the use of firearms in self-defense; a right explicitly protected by the Constitution. And the supposedly “reasonable” activists who swear up and down that they aren’t opposed to the Second Amendment even take issue with the NSSF and other groups promoting trap, skeet, and other competitive shooting outlets that have become quite popular in recent years. The first round of the Minnesota High School trap shooting championships recently featured nearly 8,000 teen trap shooters from all across the state; a number that Everytown and their ilk would like to reduce to zero.
The good news is that none of these prior complaints appear to have gone anywhere, and based on the weak sauce Everytown presents as evidence in its complaint against Daniel Defense my guess is that the same will be true here as well. The broader attack on the firearms industry, however, isn’t going to stop anytime soon, and the gun control lobby won’t be satisfied until they’ve made it impossible or illegal to own a firearm… not to mention buying, selling, making, or marketing one.