Gun industry provokes sniper

“The recent outbreak of long-range sniper attacks in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia exposes two long-term trends in gun industry marketing: Mass marketing of military and military-style weapons, including assault rifles and sniper rifles and equipment, to the civilian market; and cultivation of a sniper subculture within the gun community.”

There you have it, straight from the mouth of one of the nation’s most virulently anti-gun groups this side of Sarah Brady’s kaffeeklatsch.

The Violence Policy Center hath spoken, blaming the firearm industry for the recent horrific attacks by assailant(s) unknown.

It is a tired and hollow tactic – make the gun responsible for crime rather than the individual who pulls the trigger. Lack of a flesh-and-blood suspect never stopped the VPC from assigning blame.

Even if it turns out that the shooter is an English-illiterate terrorist from halfway around the globe who wouldn’t know gun industry marketing if it sat up and barked.

Hours after a 13-year-old Maryland boy was shot while on his way to school, the VPC’s senior policy analyst, Tom Diaz, attempted to demonize an entire industry in a hyped-up news release headlined “Snipers – Predictable Consequence of Gun Industry Marketing.”

And The Washington Post’s editorial writers, who never saw a gun-control measure they didn’t think was delicious, ate it up like sugar-coated breakfast cereal.

The Post, in its Thursday editorial, cited Diaz’s expansive knowledge of the murderous mind when he said that the sniper’s informal motto is “one shot, one kill” – not coincidentally the title of Diaz’s study on “civilian sales of military sniper rifles.”

The VPC is ready to share more than inflammatory mottoes. Its Web site offers a virtual “how to” guide for snipers that not only details the ordnance available but goes so far as to help would-be snipers and terrorists identify and classify targets – and provides maps and photographs as a guide.

Too bad that Diaz and the Post didn’t take their cue from Kathleen Kennedy Townsend -Democratic nominee for Maryland governor and a proponent of gun control – and hold their tongues, at least for now.

Even though Townsend has worked tirelessly as lieutenant governor to restrict access to guns in the Old Line State, she’s smart enough to realize that during this emotionally charged time it is not appropriate – or politically savvy – to wage the gun-rights-vs.-gun-control debate.

Similarly, the Republican nominee for Maryland governor, U.S. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., has said his campaign won’t talk about firearms in any forum until those responsible for the recent shootings are caught.

Sound public policy is rarely if ever developed in a crucible of fear. And without question, folks in and around the areas that have been terrorized by the sniper(s) are terrified.

Townsend and Ehrlich apparently understand that. Unfortunately, other politicians are more than eager to capitalize on tragedy in an attempt to garner attention and press their agenda.

U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., called a news conference Thursday to decry gun industry marketing that appears to appeal intentionally to lawbreakers and to call for a Federal Trade Commission investigation.

Conyers appears to have forgotten that, under the Clinton administration, the FTC conducted such an investigation and found no issue with the marketing and advertising of firearms. What makes Conyers think that a new investigation will yield a different result?

“As someone who makes a career marketing firearms, I have to wonder just exactly how we are marketing to lawbreakers,” said Keeva Segal, a gun industry marketing consultant.

“We cannot get any except firearms publications to accept our ads. I cannot recall ever producing an ad or marketing campaign that was geared toward anyone except law-abiding adults.

In fact, we typically have all advertising and marketing copy reviewed by legal counsel to ensure that we make no claims that might appeal to a criminal or minor.”

Every last country-loving, law-abiding consumer of magazines ranging from “Guns and Ammo” to “Field and Stream” should be livid _ with Conyers, with the VPC and with anyone who is engaging in the blame game when the true culprit is a deadly phantom playing mind games with law enforcement and the American people.

Jill “J.R.” Labbe is a senior editorial writer and columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She can be reached at