This historian just made it likelier that Sandy Hook parents will be able to take Remington to court

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

Raw Story:

Connecticut judge has ruled that the families of the Sandy Hook elementary school mass shooting can gather facts to develop a civil action against Remington, the parent company for the Bushmaster AR-15 used by shooter Adam Lanza. If their case goes to trial, it would be a landmark challenge to the 2005 legislation that shields the gun industry from civil liability.

The plaintiffs are arguing that Remington bears some culpability for the shooting because their marketing deliberately targeted teenage males. The plaintiffs hope to gain access to Remington’s highly proprietary marketing plans to instantiate their claims. They may or may not succeed. But for the early 1900s, those marketing plans are hidden in plain view, in the historical archive. And they spell out how consciously and energetically the gun industry worked to cultivate the young male consumer in modern times.

The Winchester Repeating Arms Company, for example, developed what they shorthanded as a “boy plan” to encourage gun sales and love in young men.

In 1917, saddled by massive wartime expansion and debt, Winchester wrote a confidential letter to its jobbers and retailers about its postwar ambitions. “You are going to sell more guns this year than you ever sold before!” the company promised. “The need today is for more gun business.” Likewise, “the best way to make…ammunition business is to put more guns into hands of shooters.”

To support sales Winchester embarked on what it characterized as the “greatest commercial venture in the history of this country, probably in the history of the world.” They never lacked for ambition. In 1920 alone, they spent close to a million dollars on advertising.

A centerpiece of this effort was the company’s boy plan. Winchester prepared a letter about the .22 caliber rifle to send to boys between the ages of ten and sixteen. They asked retailers to send a list of the names of boys in their towns, so the company could send the letter to them under the retailer’s name.  The company intended to reach precisely 3,363,537 boys this way.

“Read this letter. Put yourself in the place of a boy of 14. Would you let another day go by before calling on your dealer?” The retailer’s task was to “Put a Winchester into the Hands of Every Youth in Your Town. When the boys and girls of your town arrive at the age of twelve years, they become your prospects.”

The company supported the campaign nationally with extensive advertisement in American Boy, Boys’ Life, Youth’s Companion, and others, as well as magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post.

Some of the boy plan selling points emphasized military readiness, and the idea that boys should know basic marksmanship, and how to handle a rifle safely. Capt. E. Crossman, something of a gun gossip columnist in the early 1900s, praised Winchester for trying to popularize preparedness through marksmanship, “even though it be from a purely business standpoint” and motivation. Other strands of Winchester’s boy marketing sold the gun on more mystical and deeply emotional terms.

In their internal sales publications, newsletters, correspondence, and bulletins to introduce the campaign, Winchester drew on the modern language of psychology. The company emphasized “a boy’s natural interest in a gun,” his “yearning for a gun” as a “natural instinct,” and the “inborn trait of human nature” that aroused a male’s interest in a display of guns and ammunition. This naturalized a boy’s desire to own a gun in a more urban, post-frontier America in which a gun was less necessary to his daily life. The Winchester Record, a company magazine, summarized it as the “the shooting instinct, which is present in most boys and girls.”

The company explicitly tied guns to powerful feelings about masculinity and authenticity at a time when Americans had anxiety about the softening effects of modern life and shifting gender roles. One group of ads claimed that every “real boy” wanted a gun—and that “every real American mother and father” knew that he should have one. Nothing was closer to a “real boy’s heart than shooting.” A lot of self-conscious effort reinforced the ostensibly obvious and irrefutable link between the gun and the “sturdy manliness that every real boy wants to have.”

But Winchester also invited its sales force to imagine a boy’s natural gun love as a by-product of the yeastily proliferating world of matinees, westerns, and the “countless boys’ adventure stories” that complemented the gun industry’s advertising. “Picture a red-headed boy in the front row of the movies. He’s on the edge of his seat, eyes still popping out of his head as the end is written across a … film where Winchester rifles were the star speakers. Up flashes your ‘ad’—boys earning Winchester sharpshooter medals …. What’s he going to save up his quarters for? A Winchester of course.”

It is strange to contemporary ears, but Winchester advised retailers to appeal directly to their “boy customers” and their allowance quarters, not to their parents.

I’ve lifted enough text out of the Raw Story article that hopefully you won’t have to visit the site to get the gist of the report.

So what the hell difference does any of this make?  How is this any different than marketing a car to a teen and that teen driving in an unsafe manner and harming someone?

Answer.  It isn’t any different.  The breathless report at Raw Story is just another reminder that the law only means something when it benefits the progressives, and can safely be ignored if it hinders their social planning.

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Comments

  1. On May 25, 2016 at 8:13 am, Fred said:

    “Other strands of Winchester’s boy marketing sold the gun on more mystical and deeply emotional terms.”

    They always let it slip. They can’t help it. The godless understand next to nothing of men and boys. There is nothing MYSTICAL about emphasizing;

    “a boy’s natural interest in a gun” – “yearning for a gun” – “natural instinct,” – “inborn trait of human nature” – “naturalized a boy’s desire” – “The Winchester Record, a company magazine, summarized it as the “the shooting instinct, which is present in most boys and girls.” The company explicitly tied guns to powerful feelings about masculinity and authenticity…”

    These are God given, inherent traits in human males, designed by Him, that urge a boy to desire knowledge and participation in how to keep his family and his tribe safe and fed. His desire is already “naturalized” before the foundations of the earth were set. These are the qualities of “masculinity and authenticity” that we should praise Winchester for encouraging in our boys. Unless or course you’re some kind of godless, (some) gun grabbing, sissy.
    By acknowledging these traits Winchester worked it’s way out of dept in the free and open market. Good for them.

  2. On May 25, 2016 at 10:51 am, Archer said:

    Boys and men have a natural, God-given instinct to protect and provide for their families (future families, in the case of boys). This is completely normal, despite the recent “Progressive” drive to eradicate masculinity and turn all boys into effeminate man-children and “Pajama Boys”.

    It’s not any different than when a boy picks up a stick and — in his mind, at least — it becomes a sword; a tool that like a gun can be used equally to harm or protect. As another writer eloquently put it (going from memory, so forgive me if this isn’t 100% accurate), “Violence doesn’t happen when boys have sticks; violence happens when boys aren’t taught what sticks are for.”

  3. On May 25, 2016 at 10:28 am, Geoffry K said:

    Wait. His Mother bought guns. He murdered his Mother and stole the guns. To me that absolves everyone of blame, except the shooter.

  4. On May 25, 2016 at 10:39 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Yea. I suspect all of that will come up again during trial. But the parents will get a chance to show their disgust at Remington, and the lawyers will get rich.

  5. On May 25, 2016 at 10:44 am, Archer said:

    The company supported the campaign nationally with extensive advertisement in American Boy, Boy’s Life, Youth’s Companion, and others, as well as magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post.

    Boy’s Life? As in, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America, which not coincidentally has had a Riflemanship merit badge (which includes safe handling of firearms) since time immemorial? They were advertising guns through that Boy’s Life?

    [sarcasm] Oh, the HORROR! [/sarcasm]

  6. On May 25, 2016 at 12:50 pm, Fred said:

    Wasn’t in the scouts. I must have been too busy, being advertised at, about guns, to participate in any other activities.

  7. On May 25, 2016 at 11:30 am, Renov8 said:

    So, how come our (male) interest in guns is any different from marketing campaigns in sports, leisure activities, food and beverages any different????? Answer: its not……

  8. On May 25, 2016 at 12:26 pm, Parnell said:

    I know I didn’t need any marketing campaign to fuel my gun interest. Growing up in a gun family did it.

  9. On May 25, 2016 at 3:48 pm, Pat Hines said:

    I’d respond to the Raw Story essay (it’s not a researched article) but I’m blocked from doing so because I’ve offered opposing views there in the past. They don’t like opposing comments, at ALL.

    Raw Story, Daily KOS, Salon, Slate, and others are all similar; cultural Marxists, neocommunists, and progressives bent on the destruction of our Christian civilization.

  10. On May 25, 2016 at 5:34 pm, Haywood Jablome said:

    This is ALL about discovery. They want a peek behind the curtain.

  11. On May 26, 2016 at 4:12 pm, steve618 said:

    Remington attorneys need to challenge the plaintiffs’ standing to even bring any lawsuits. Sandy Hook was a fraud and there is no evidence anyone even died there. Remington should require hard evidence any victims even exist. Death certificates would be a good place to start.

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