Mother Jones Gets A Lot Wrong In Its Gun Advertising Hit Piece Blaming Advertising For ‘Gun Violence’

by Tommy Grant

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Now comes another in the long line of attacks on the gun industry and how it markets its products to customers. The latest is from Mark Follman at Mother Jones. Apparently attempting to blow the lid off of gun makers’ promotional strategies, Follman hangs his hat on a report titled UnTargeting Kids compiled by the Sandy Hook Promise gun control operation.

“Our nation has experienced a tremendous spike in firearm deaths just as gun marketing made a transition from selling firearms for hunting and sporting to marketing highly lethal, military-style weapons to civilians, including children,” the report says. “That marketing is supposedly aimed at adults, but the platforms those influencers appear on, including TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, are largely populated by kids.”

There’s only one problem with that. The Sandy Hook Promise report blames “military-style weapons” for the spike in firearm deaths, even though, according to FBI data, year after year, rifles (of any kind) are used in far fewer homicides than knives.

Follman gets his timing wrong, too. The Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex has been trying to blame gonzo gun ads for increased “gun violence” for more than a decade now. But the surge in gun-related homicides didn’t happen until 2020, thanks to the pandemic, the George Floyd Summer of Love, and the deterioration of so many cities thanks to lax law enforcement and permissive “progressive” criminal justice systems.

The majority of crimes involving guns are committed by people involved in gangs or drugs, mostly using cheap pistols…the same as it has been for decades now. So-called “assault weapons” have been used in a handful of horrific, high profile mass shootings, but they’re not used in a statistically significant number of gun-related homicides.

Follman, however, doesn’t let facts get in the way. Instead, he turns to the Gun Control Industry’s favorite former insider.

““That this type of marketing has contributed to creating today’s radical violent extremists is inescapable,” former gun company executive Ryan Busse argued in The Atlantic, referring to the 18-year-old avowed white supremacist who used a Bushmaster rifle in May 2022 to murder 10 Black people and injure three others at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.”

Except that you don’t see gun ads anywhere unless you actively seek them out. They aren’t in TV commercials, in magazines or newspapers, or on most websites. You only see them if you’re already on gun-related websites, read gun-related magazines, or choose to follow gun companies on social media (and even there, most platforms throttle their content).

Then there’s the inconvenient fact that no one has ever proven that any mass shooter so much as saw one of these allegedly edgy ads, let alone the more extraordinary claim that a gun ad somehow influenced one of them to commit mass murder.

By the way, Mr. Follman, you should reach out to Mr. Busse and get a comment from him to update your article. Now that he’s running for Governor of Montana, he suddenly claims he doesn’t support an assault weapon ban. How does that square with those prior claims of his?

Follman’s article includes the usual hand-wringing about the popularity of video games that include guns. But what limited relationship firearm manufacturers had in that area ended over a decade ago. Now developers use popular guns in their games without permission or payment either to or from gun companies. So Sandy Hook Promise got what it says it wanted a long time ago. Any inclusion today of popular guns in video games today isn’t the fault of gun makers.

So Follman’s piece is riddled with incorrect “facts,” a faulty chronology, and tries to blame gun makers for something they have no control over. That doesn’t make for a particularly effective hit piece. Better luck next time.


Konstadinos Moros is an Associate Attorney with Michel & Associates, a law firm in Long Beach that regularly represents the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) in its litigation efforts to restore the Second Amendment in California. You can find him on his Twitter handle @MorosKostas. To donate to CRPA or become a member, visit

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