by Meg McIntire
When you’re a dying industry and lack the self-awareness to quietly fold into obscurity, you will stop at nothing to claw back to relevancy.
And when you’re the hunting industry, you’ll even push to put guns in the hands of children.
In a recent report, the CT-based National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s trade association, actually recommended that gun manufacturers market to children, saying: “To help hunting and target shooting get a head start over other activities, stakeholders such as managers and manufacturers should target programs toward youth 12 years old and younger. This is the time that youth are being targeted with competing activities.”
The industry is well aware that many marketing research firms and the financial industry in general have deemed it is on shaky ground. In 2017, IBISWorld, a global market research firm, did a study of the state of the hunting industry and concluded, “…the hunting and trapping industry is in the declining stage of its life cycle, evidenced by a decrease in new hunting participation over the past two decades and sluggish increase in revenue in recent years.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that such an immoral, sleazy industry would prey on children to boost revenue as gun manufacturers like Colt, Savage, Remington and Federal Premium are laying off employees. A report released in 2016 by the Violence POLICY Center, a Washington-DC based gun violence injury prevention organization, called “Start Them Young” reveals a variety of firearms targeted at children.
For example it mentions the Crickett rifle, a gun made for children by Keystone Sporting Arms, one of the top gun manufacturers, which promotes the product as “My First Rifle.” Keystone’s website and some of its merchandise bear the image of “Davey Crickett,” a gun-wielding cartoon insect.
But perhaps most disturbing of all, Keystone is even attempting to indoctrinate children deemed too young to own their own firearm by selling books featuring “Little Jake,” a boy who uses his gun to bring down a bear and save an African village from a “troublesome” elephant.
State wildlife agencies in the U.S., which make money off of hunting and trapping licenses, are equally as shameful, working overtime to entice adolescents into participating into the violent hunting culture. For example, in New York, the Department of Environmental Conservation, promoted its “Youth Trapping Camp” weekends for kids.
Children between the ages of 12 and 14 were invited to attend the events to learn how to capture animals in inhumane metal leghold traps, kill them and then skin them so they can earn a state Trapper Education certificate. Wildlife agencies should be teaching respect for wildlife as the ever increasing human population squeezes it into tiny habitats—not how to torture and kill animals.
Plus, kids these days, already traumatized by school shootings, don’t need to be placed in emotional and psychological jeopardy by being taught to kill and treat living, sentient beings as unfeeling, inanimate objects.
TARGETING THE AIRWAVES
The gun industry has also taken to television as a marketing strategy. Just this past summer, American billionaire, Stan Kroenke launched “My Outdoor TV” in the UK, a subscription cable channel that streams hunting and bloodsports 24/7. It has also been available in the U.S. for two years. The channel, which is owned by Outdoor Sportsman Group, features several programs chronicling trophy hunts and the gruesome murders of innocent threatened African species, such as lions and elephants.
The footage depicted on these programs is disturbingly violent and bloody, with trophy hunters making such callous remarks as: “It’s a good shot…Definitely, some liver and some lungs hit.” One program shows a presenter shooting a threatened African elephant before the bull turns and charges at him.
Two more shots are heard before the animal falls to the ground and dies. The channel’s spokesperson claims to show “ethical, fair chase and legal” hunting, but Friends of Animals knows there is no such thing.
The creation of the channel in the UK elicited worldwide protests and hundreds of petitions to get it taken off the air, which has resulted in some of the programming being pulled off the channel.
We are bolstered that the programming may not be renewed. In the meantime, another loathsome marketing scheme is Gun TV. Launched in 2016 with the tagline “Live Shopping. Fully loaded,” Gun TV was a home shopping channel dedicated to selling firearms, munitions, outdoor and shooting sports products. In a 2016 statement, the channel’s creator asked people to “Imagine the multifaceted platform of iTunes, the social interactivity of Facebook and best in class products combined to form a revolutionary shopping opportunity available to U.S. satellite and cable subscribers, smart device and active social media users.”
On the first episode, sales began with a blonde rodeo rider posing for the camera with a 9mm pistol. A price tag flashed at the bottom of the television screen: $249.99. “Call 844-My-GunTV right now,” she said. “We can get this in your hands.”
It turns out, the American public wasn’t interested. At all. And GunTV is off the air.
While this is good news, GUNTV wasn’t the only trigger happy television channel out there. The NRA owns an entire television network, NRATV, which hosts a variety of pro-gun programs including “Under Wild Skies” a big-game hunting series that showcases hunters traveling the world to hunt down threatened species.
The NRA’s network is facing pressure, however, from Apple, Amazon, and Roku customers who are demanding the network be dropped from streaming platforms. FoA will not rest until the plug is pulled on the entire hunting industry. This year, we will continue to push for legislation that would end animal killing contests in the U.S. and the importation of trophy-hunted animals into the country. Stay tuned