The Commercial Origins Of America’s Gun Culture

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

WSJ:

But the global market was unreliable, too. In 1879, Winchester told his board of directors that business had slumped. The firm’s foreign contracts were completed, leaving it wholly dependent on the expanding but still modest domestic market. Winchester’s international business fell to just 10% of its total sales by the end of the 19th century, and purchases by the U.S. military were minimal during peacetime.

American consumers would have to make up the shortfall, but more modern guns, such as repeaters and revolvers, didn’t just sell themselves. From 1868 to 1880, according to the sales records of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham, the country’s largest gun merchant, settlers in the American West tended to choose less expensive, more durable muskets over the new weapons that could fire multiple shots.

Though some Americans always loved their Winchesters and Colts, many others saw guns as dowdy, practical tools. They would shop for them by perusing advertisements in farm-focused periodicals like the American Agriculturalist or the Rural New Yorker.

As the frontier was settled and U.S. cities grew, fewer Americans even needed guns as tools. By the turn of the 20th century, the industry had embraced the emerging science of marketing. Gun companies began thinking about how to create new demand for their products. In this respect, their business was no different from the stove or soap business.

Having started with customers who needed guns but didn’t especially love them, the industry now focused on those who loved guns but didn’t especially need them. In the late 1800s, gun companies were innovators in advertising, among the first merchandisers to make extensive use of chromolithography, an early technique for producing multicolored print. Their calendars and other promotional materials were works of art, depicting exciting scenes in which gunmen faced off with bandits or beasts.

So the marketing, advertising and exotic guns at high prices are to blame for the American gun culture.  I see.  So the solution to this “problem,” it would seem, it to charge almost nothing for guns, or maybe give them away for free.  Then I would be the only person who wanted them.  I’m good with that.  I could pretend to be Hickok45 touring Bud’s gun shop.


Comments

  1. On April 25, 2016 at 11:46 am, Haywood Jablome said:

    I had to go back to the beginning to see the source. Thank God it was the WSJ….I thought you got it from a news source….

  2. On April 26, 2016 at 10:25 am, Damocles said:

    Very interesting. Whenever I think of firearms marketing, I think of this quote from one of Jeff Quinn’s you tube videos. “Barack Obama is the best gun salesman since Oliver Winchester”. And he is correct IMHO.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published April 24th, 2016 by Herschel Smith.

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