As our young folks shame us into making common sense changes to gun control laws, my thoughts turn to how America became such a gun-toting nation, and as usual, big business is the answer.
The NRA’s insistent drumbeat that Americans have always clutched their guns with one hand as they wave the flag with the other misstates history.
Look back 50 years – because a knowledge of history is one thing master manipulators don’t want you to have – how many people in urban areas had guns? Not many.
The truth is that those people in the areas sometimes called the “Heartland” or “Red States” or “Rural America” have always had guns, because when you live in the country a gun is merely a tool to protect livestock from predators, or hunt the wildlife that lives around you.
And that hasn’t changed. What has changed is that the NRA has convinced the sheeple that any regulation of guns spells the end of freedom itself.
But let’s peel back the layers a bit on that, shall we? One thing we know – that we all live on a daily basis – is that the American consumer has been bombarded with products and services that we mostly don’t need, hawked by businesses that abuse us, manipulate us and exploit our deepest fears and anxieties.
When a business has saturated an existing market with its products, it has three choices: significantly raise its prices, decrease the quality and useful lifespan of the product so your customers need to purchase it more often; or expand your market.
In the case of American consumers, we've been hit with all three.
When the trade members of the NRA decided that gun loving rural people weren’t enough of a market, they simply expanded the market into urban areas, with predictable results.
The biggest drug dealers in the world are the U.S. pharmaceutical companies – pushing pills for everything from dry eye syndrome to social anxiety disorder (a.k.a. shyness) – pumping us full of pain pills to dull the ache of our misery. They created markets where none had existed before.
Our cell phones regularly die when the new ones come out – first it was after three years, then two and now we’re convinced to rotate them out on an annual basis for staggering sums. They expanded markets by relying on planned obsolescence.
We buy a steady stream of worthless junk that work for mere weeks then live out their days on garbage dumps befouling our land and our seas.
We’re sold identity theft protection for $35 a month, home security systems for $35 a month, and a gym membership for $35 a month – none of which usually do anything for us except empty our already depleted bank accounts. And believe it or not, big business did a study a few years back and figured out that as long as the number didn’t exceed, say $35 a month, we all think we can afford all manner of useless crap.
And just as the marketing strategy for every product or service you can think of is to sell us more and more junk while we have less and less, the gun industry has followed the exact same plan. Consider their answer to gun crime – more guns. School shootings run amok? Arm the teachers. Armed teachers run amok? Arm the students. Students and teachers shooting each other? Arm the hall monitors. And no matter how ridiculous, they will never stop.
Gun ownership in this country – especially handguns and assault weapons – has skyrocketed in the last few decades. This is not because hunting suddenly grew in popularity. This is not because we have suddenly become more bloodthirsty – we’ve always been an exceedingly violent country.
This is because the gun industry, represented by the NRA, has used tried and true techniques to increase its revenue by stoking our fears and flood the market with products we don’t really need.
Only in the case of the NRA, the effect of gun proliferation is not an addiction problem (which, by the way, we also have thanks to some of these same tactics), but murder. Sometimes mass murder.
But make no mistake, for some businesses, murder is just good business.