Anti-gunners petition FTC to hit gun company marketing

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

After the lawsuit against Remington was settled, anti-gun activists felt they had a way in. That lawsuit hinged not around the gun itself, but the marketing for the weapon used.

While no court actually ruled on the merits of the case, some believed it provided an avenue with which to attack the firearm industry. On Thursday, they made their move with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Gun control advocates are petitioning the Federal Trade Commission today to investigate and regulate the firearms industry as it has with tobacco, alleging that gun manufacturers use deceptive advertising practices.

The petition, which DealBook is first to report, is the latest salvo aimed at the marketing tactics of an industry that has largely been protected from liability for the harms of its products because of federal laws. The groups urging action by the F.T.C. include Brady, the Giffords Law Center, March for Our Lives and the FACT Coalition.

Gun marketing promotes an illusion of safety, the petitioners say. Americans have “been falsely led to believe that gun ownership is a safe way to protect their home and family,” they argue. The C.D.C. reported 45,222 deaths from gun-related injuries in 2020 (an earlier version of this item misstated the year, because of an editing error). The F.T.C. “has effectively given the gun industry a free pass,” the petitioners say.

Some bold statements, to say the least.

After all, we all know that having a gun and not needing it is far better than needing one and not having it. Further, we’ve all read the armed citizen stories through the years. Statistics show that firearms are used many, many more times per year to defend life than to take it.

Making such an extraordinary claim to the FTC means they need to present some extraordinary evidence. Do they?

Well, not really.

The Firearms Policy Coalition looked at some of these claims being made to the FTC in a Twitter thread on Thursday and…yeah, I’m just not seeing it.

Here are some examples:

And, of course, let’s not forget my personal favorite:

As you can see, most of this is really just the petitioners venting because gun companies are marketing firearms to people who might want them and aren’t being forced to push an anti-gun agenda in the process or treat their customers as complete morons.

Seriously, FPC has more.

Now, keep in mind how gun company marketing works in the first place. They don’t advertise on network television. The only way you see their ads are to either be consuming related content such as an outdoor show or gun magazine or you go looking for it by following their social media.

To claim that their marketing is contributing to anything requires the petitioners to ignore this basic fact.

If someone is looking up Glock’s Instagram feed, they’re seeking out the marketing in question. They’re not being influenced by it.

In a just world, the FTC would ignore this petition as a big nothing.

Unfortunately, this is the Biden administration, which is far more likely to take it seriously, and that’s a big problem. While the FTC can’t necessarily shut gun manufacturers down, they can fine them and make it harder and harder for them to advertise their products.

If the FTC makes it hard enough for them to do business, the shutdown will happen on its own.

Needless to say, that’s not good.

However, the FTC isn’t likely to move quickly on this, which means there’s time to fight back. While the FTC falls under the executive branch, calling legislators and asking them to speak up is always a good idea. After all, Congress controls their funding, so they’ll need to listen.

It also means the midterms just got that much more important as did the 2024 elections.

Dig in, boys and girls. It’s going to be a fight.