When Igor Volsky, the co-founder and executive director of Guns Down America, a gun-control group “dedicated to building a future with fewer guns,” saw an article in The New York Times claiming that gun manufacturers are suddenly (more on that in a moment) marketing to women and minorities, he showcased his ignorance about America and our freedom in a series of tweets:
“1/ Gun makers are softening their image to ‘put a better face in front of people’ & ‘ramp up its appeal to women, children and members of minority groups,’” wrote Volsky. “That’s right: Gun makers are increasingly advertising to WOMEN, CHILDREN & MINORITY COMMUNITIES.”
Volsky then tweeted: “2/ Firearm industry realizes that to survive into the future it must ‘broaden its reach beyond the aging white men who have been its core customers’ -- and so they’re now trying to sell their products to other demographics. This is incredibly dangerous.”
Reading the reaction on Twitter is amusing, as a lot of people called Volsky out on his views.
“i am a minority woman and i want to buy a gun because i am unsafe living alone in my neighborhood. i also hunt goat, deer and pig so i might want my own gun one day instead of just compound bow. why is it wrong for me to have a gun?” said someone with the username Eat ule.
“One of the most exciting things to watch in the firearms community for the last 20 years is how much more inclusive it's become. If you are on the fence about buying a gun or learning how to use one, don’t delay any longer! No matter who you are, gun people will welcome you,” tweeted Nathan Lewis.
The demographics of gun ownership are changing in America (see, “The Rise of the Woman Gun Owner”), as more people embrace their freedom. Still, it isn’t truthful to say that firearms manufacturers have only recently begun marketing to women. Companies, such as Colt, Savage Arms and Remington, have long run ads designed to specifically appeal to women.
An ad for the Savage Model 1907, a semi-automatic pistol made from 1907-1920, for example, showed a photo of a woman in a nightgown firing this Savage pistol. Under the photo was the ad copy: “Her property—her little ones—her own life—she knows are safely protected when she has a Savage Automatic in her home. She knows its ten sure shots are at her command—quick or slow, as she chooses—one to each trigger pull….”
This article showcases just a few of the ads gun manufacturers ran over the last century and more as they marketed guns to women.
But Volsky didn’t just get this history wrong, he also said selling guns to women and minorities “is incredibly dangerous.” This sounds like both sexism and racism, as Volsky seems to be saying he doesn’t think women and minorities are capable of handling their Second Amendment freedom.
A lot of female and minority gun-rights advocates did call Volsky out on his views. Maj Toure, head of Black Guns Matter, said, “Imagine being either so uninformed on the racist roots of gun control or so full of yourself that you would not only think but also believe that melinated Americans owning guns would be incredibly dangerous. I wonder what he thinks of the thousands of melinated law-enforcement officers and military personnel that carry firearms to protect life as well?”
“I can’t even imagine what Mr. Volsky would say about the rising trend of youth in the shooting sports!” said Barbara Baird, founder and publisher of Women’s Outdoor News. “Gun manufacturers are responding to something called a free market, and noticing that women are appearing at gun counters across this nation, buying firearms—whether it is for shooting sports, personal defense or the tradition of hunting. Women want firearms that fit and function. Sales are not being driven the other way around; women are not responding to the market’s desire to sell to them. They are driving the sales and the market is responding to them.”