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An Looming Threat to the Firearm Market


Another day, another sleepless night for the ever observant gun owner, California legislators are looking to create new regulations that will bring a halt to the marketing practices of the firearms industry.

California assembly bill 2571 is now available to the public and this legislation is going to bar the firearms industry from advertising to minors.

That statement alone doesn’t raise a whole lot of eyebrows as children should not be subjected to intense marketing of any kind regardless of subject, it is the way this legislation goes about barring these advertisements that is concerning.

The legislation in part reads:

A person, firm, corporation, partnership, or other organization publishing material directed to minors in this state or who has actual knowledge that a minor in this state is using or receiving its material, shall not knowingly use, disclose, compile, or allow a third party to use, disclose, or compile, the personal information of that minor with actual knowledge that the use, disclosure, or compilation is for the purpose of marketing or advertising to that minor any firearm, handgun, ammunition, or reloaded ammunition, as referenced in Sections 16150, 16520, 16640, 27505, and 30300 of the Penal Code.

Lets define a few of the terms in this section of the legislation to get a better understanding of what this means for the firearms industry and other industries this legislation will affect.

Internet-based media” is defined by the legislation as meaning “an internet website, online service, online application, or mobile application, or a portion thereof.

Marketing or advertising” is defined by the legislation as meaning “in exchange for monetary compensation, to make a communication to one or more individuals, or to arrange for the dissemination to the public of a communication, about a product or service the primary purpose of which is to encourage recipients of the communication to purchase or use the product or service.

Now that we understand what these terms mean, let’s talk about what this means for those who might advertise firearms.

Companies that run advertisements on their platforms will be fined under this law if they are advertising firearms, firearm accessories, or firearm brands to minors. This legislation specifically points to “firearm brand name merchandise, such as hats, t-shirts, or stuffed animals” as being in violation of the proposed law. Now how will this work? Companies will likely have to stop letting firearm companies advertise with them to avoid any risk of getting a fine.

These platforms are not supposed to keep data on minors so identifying them on their platforms is difficult(because they are not supposed to identify them). As a result of this, companies grant generic ads to those individuals who they do not have information on and this means that someone who is a minor might receive an advertisement they were not intended to see or advertisements they have no interest in. Ultimately companies will opt to avoid any risks as a result of the legislation.

It should also be noted that this legislation would have an impact outside of the state of California. Companies might see cutting off the firearms industry from advertising all-together as a better alternative to creating a California work around as similar legislation could pop up in other states.

Social media and gaming will be the industries most affected by this legislation. Social media for obvious reasons but the implications this has in the gaming space is a little more nuanced.

Many video games that feature firearms use real world firearms in their games, this may be seen as a form of advertisement under the bill and that could result in these companies being unable to advertise their games to minors (the group buying these video games).

The only thing that might be able to help video games avoid these regulations is the legislation’s definition of “marketing or advertising”. The term “monetary compensation” is used which suggests that these game’s developers are in the clear. These companies typically use 3D models of real guns from real brands and these brands allow this to happen because it is effectively free advertising for their products, but since money is not typically exchanged in these deals they might continue free of any trouble.

This bill’s success might actually depend on the games industry and the impact the legislation would have on it. Games companies are massive and most of them are based out of California so even if out of state entities could find a loophole it wouldn’t apply to many of these companies. Lobbying efforts from these companies might sway this vote on this legislation if it makes it to the floor.

Legislation like this is part of a larger push from the gun control lobby to attack the firearms industry rather than gun owners. Faceless corporations are a lot easier to rally against than people’s neighbors and family members, this was the calculation made and the current plan of action for the gun control lobby. Their ultimate goal will be the total disarmament of the American people, but how they plan on achieving this has changed.

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