US Approach to Guns Apparent From Early Advertising
In the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, it seems grotesque. But gunmakers in the US used to advertise their deadly products directly to teenage boys, marketing them as the perfect Christmas present. And if the wife resisted, Winchester had the answer.
The living room is decorated for the holidays, an armchair is positioned invitingly in front of the fireplace and a glistening Christmas tree stands next to it. The presents, piled up on the shag carpeting under the tree, have already been unwrapped — and are displayed prominently throughout the room. Pistols, rifles and ammunition. “Make this a Browning Christmas,” reads the perky font above the photo.
The image was part of a newspaper advertisement printed decades ago to lure US readers to purchase Browning weapons as gifts for their loved ones. In recent years, it has made its rounds on the Internet, and the comments attached to it show that many Americans can still recall having seen it. And there are others too, such as the image of the wide-eyed, freckled boy who has just unwrapped his present. He holds his new rifle in his hands and says, “Gee Dad … a Winchester!”
In the wake of the recent school shooting in the US, the ads now seem like a macabre joke. Back in the 1950s, however, when they were printed, they hardly raised eyebrows. Indeed, many of those in the US who vehemently insist on their right to own guns were shaped by such ads when they were growing up. And they clearly show the nonchalance with which Americans then and, to a large degree, now approached weapons.