Sex, Safety, And Machismo: How Guns Are Advertised In America

gun ad sexy women

The Newtown, Conn., school massacre, which took the lives of 27 women and young children, caused many Americans to re-evaluate the role of guns in society.The Bushmaster AR-15, one of three guns shooter Adam Lanza used, was marketed to appeal to men’s machismo. Its ad, headlined, “consider your man card reissued”, drew attention to how guns are advertised in the United States.

From sex, safety, to stereotypes about masculinity, here’s a collection of what gun ads look like today and how they’ve evolved in the last century.

Adam Lanza brandished a Bushmaster AR-15 when he murdered 27 women and small children in Newtown. This is how that weapon is marketing to the general public. Magazine ads equate owning the gun to being a man.

Of course, not all gun ads bait customers by questioning their masculinity. This Smith & Wesson ad, for example, only highlights the product's features and functionality.

In fact, early gun advertising from the 1900s and 1910s simply touted the benefits of the gun itself. It ignored what the gun was actually for.

In the 1920s and 30s, the marketing focus shifted to emphasise hunting.

Hunting is still a main focus of gun ads today.

But the true shift came in the 1940s. World War II inspired gun advertising aimed at civilians, likening them to soldiers.

The military-theme has persisted in modern firearm ads.

If it's good enough for a soldier, it's good enough for your gun cabinet.

Gun marketing embraces the notion that guns give civilians their only chance of survival in a dangerous world.

It's kill or be killed.

Gun ads reach out to various ethnicities...

... and genders.

Gun ads target women with the promise that gun ownership counteracts victimhood.

Forget diamonds, a Glock is a girl's best friend.

Then there's the argument that guns are just plain old fun.

But other ads use scare tactics. This ad, which appeared on various gun blogs, urges fathers to arm their daughters, claiming it's their best protection against rapists with AIDS.

Guns have historically been marketed to boys as a rite of passage into manhood.

The general idea was to start boys when they're young.

The NRA currently advertises this branded foam rocket gun toy for kids on its web site.

Old ads from the 60s advertised them as the perfect Christmas present.

Santa could get a different gun for each member of the family.

This is just a small sampling of the vintage Christmas-themed gun ads.

Holiday gun ads continue today. This strange ad from 2012 offers World War II era guns that come with Nazi memorabilia.

And of course, as is true for most ad campaigns, sex always sells.

Often to a baffling extent.

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