As insomniacs and impulse shoppers around the world can attest, home television shopping networks can make people covet never-before-contemplated purchases. So it’s worth asking whether a new channel dedicated to showcasing firearms could tempt Americans to buy more guns.
Gun TV (or GTV Live Shopping) is set to debut in the US in January, the Guardian reports. The channel, founded by television home shopping industry veterans Valerie Castle and Doug Bornstein, will sell guns as well as ammunition, firearms accessories, and related gear. Gun TV plans to start with an initial six hours of programming a week and expand to a 24/7 lineup within its first year.
The channel’s forthcoming debut might seem remarkably ill-timed, given recent shootings at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs and at a social services center in San Bernardino, California. But given the frequency of gun violence in the US, which in 2015 has seen more mass shootings than calendar days in the year, it’s difficult to imagine timing that would seem appropriate.
Gun TV’s creators argue that the channel is merely catering to market demand and dismiss the idea that it will increase gun ownership.
“We saw an opportunity in filling a need, not creating one,” Castle told the Guardian. “The vast majority of people who own and use guns in this country, whether it’s home protection, recreation or hunting, are responsible …. I don’t really know that it’s going to put more guns on the streets.”
Defenders of the channel also point out that customers won’t have automatic weapons delivered right to their doorstep. Gun TV will route orders through a gun wholesaler to local retail stores, where customers will have to complete background checks and paperwork in order to take their firearms home.
But critics suggest that Gun TV could make the decision to purchase a weapon seem trivial—on the same level as ordering a Snuggie or a vertical egg cooker.
“Buying a gun is a serious decision,” Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told The Desert Sun. “If you are going to buy a gun for your home, it’s not a decision you should be making at three in the morning because you are watching TV.”
Cutilletta elaborated on this point in an interview with the Guardian, adding that Gun TV will make guns “very appealing, and that’s a big concern for us—we believe it will increase demand and generate new customers.”