To the Editor:
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is receiving attention this week as their flagship convention The Shot Show takes place this week in Las Vegas. I was one of a number of local residents participating in the Newtown Action Alliance's press conference and demonstration on Monday, calling for the firearms industry to take a more responsible role and join others working to prevent gun violence.
One focus of the press conference was the gun industry's marketing of semi-automatic versions of military assault weapons. Bill Brassard of NSSF was right in saying that the industry is not marketing to civilians assault rifles, which are technically rifles with automatic or select fire capability (the ability to switch between automatic and semi-automatic modes). Assault weapons, however, as defined in state legislation, including CT, include many semi-automatic versions of military assault rifles. A NSSF campaign rebrands them Modern Sporting Rifles, portraying them as more socially acceptable, with purely cosmetic resemblances to military style assault rifles. They are very popular and very profitable.
Marketing of these weapons to the public draws heavily on their military roots. A recent report by the Violence Policy Center details the militarized marketing of weapons produced by Freedom Group, one of the biggest manufacturers of semi-automatic military style rifles. This report, including images of their ads, can be accessed online at http://www.vpc.org/studies/freedompowerpoint.pdfp. It does not match the image of hunters and sport shooters in NSSF's logo. To quote the report:
“In its advertisements and catalogs, the imagery and language used to sell these semi-automatic, high-capacity military bred weapons focuses on their use in offensive, antipersonnel situations and environments. Often gritty in their visual presentation, touchstone words and phrases include “mission”, “patrol”, and “duty.” While such ads never detail what ill defined “mission” may be carried out with these guns by their civilian owners, the Sandy Hook and Navy Yard mass shootings offer one horrific answer.
31 Osborne Hill Road, Sandy Hook January 15, 2014