Tom Diaz

Posts Tagged ‘Bushmaster AR-15’

BLOODY REEL–HOW THE NRA AND THE GUN INDUSTRY EXPLOIT VIOLENT MOVIES TO SELL GUNS …AND MORE GUNS

In Bushmaster assault rifle, Cultural assassination, Glock, Glock Semiautomatic pistols, Guns, Movies, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Video games on January 2, 2013 at 11:23 am

Cinema Seat

“Movies have more influence on which guns sell than politicians.”

AmmoLand.com, July 18, 2012.

This report is about the hypocrisy of the National Rifle Association and the gun industry it represents. Even as they pretend to condemn violence in movies, both exploit images of guns in extremely violent movies to sell the increasingly lethal military-style guns that define today’s civilian gun market.

For a PDF file of this report, which contains end notes documenting sources, click here:Blood Reel Poster PDF

 Introduction

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown CT and killed 20 first graders and 6 school employees with a .223 caliber Bushmaster semiautomatic assault rifle. He then used a handgun to kill himself. Lanza had earlier killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, with a .22 caliber rifle.

The National Rifle Association (NRA)–the public face of the American gun industry–scurried into silence. The organization took down its Facebook page and suspended its Twitter feed. Some imagined that the executives of the nation’s premier gun lobby and industry front were engaged in agonized soul-searching. The following Tuesday, the NRA’s social accounts were again active. The organization announced it would hold a press conference that Friday, one week after the slaughter of the innocents.

On Friday, December 21, the NRA’s leadership emerged in Washington, DC.  The executives did not offer the olive branch that some expected.  Instead, in a defiant broadside, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s chief executive officer and executive vice president, blamed the news media, the film industry, and video games for causing America’s gun violence problem:

And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal.  There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows [sic] violence against its own people through vicious, violent video games … Add another hurricane, add another natural disaster, I mean, we have blood-soaked films out there like “American Psycho,” “Natural Born Killers.”  They’re aired like propaganda loops on “Splatterdays” and every single day…And then they all have the nerve to call it entertainment. But is that what it really is?  Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?

It would be hard to find a more hypocritical statement even in the annals of the NRA, which is distinguished by its frequent assertion of unfounded “facts” about guns and gun violence.  The truth is that the NRA and the gun industry it represents ruthlessly peddle what LaPierre called “the filthiest form of pornography” in his statement.

This report documents

  • How the NRA promotes the use of guns in violent movies through its widely-publicized–and ongoing–“Hollywood Guns” special exhibit in its National Firearms Museum, in its official publications, and on its Internet website. Wayne LaPierre himself is credited as “executive producer” of the current “Hollywood Guns” exhibit at the NRA’s national headquarters.
  • Statements directly contradicting LaPierre’s thesis, written by a prominent author and movie critic whose article for the American Rifleman, an official NRA magazine, appears as the Introduction to Hollywood Guns, the NRA’s official exhibit brochure. Former journalist Stephen Hunter opined in his book about the movie industry and film criticism that violent movies do not cause violent behavior and may in fact prevent it.
  • Austrian handgun manufacturer Glock’s calculated marketing strategy to exploit the placement of its guns in violent movies to help it capture a premier place in the American civilian gun market.
  • Boasting by American 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifle manufacturer Barrett Firearms about the use of its guns in violent movies. Barrett is also reported to charge video game manufacturers fees for the use of representations of its guns in games.
Front Cover

Cover of the NRA National Firearms Museum “Hollywood Guns” exhibit brochure.

Violent Screen—The NRA’s National Firearms Museum Exhibits

“If you love guns or you love movies or, still luckier, you love guns AND movies, this is a trip you cannot miss.”

 Stephen Hunter

 For over a decade the NRA has glamorized the use of guns in violent movies. One prime vehicle for the NRA’s promotion of guns and violence has been a series of two exhibits in the National Firearms Museum at the NRA’s national headquarters, located in Fairfax, VA, a suburb of Washington, DC. Both exhibits featured guns used in movies that were described by critics as among the must brutally violent ever made, featuring the sort of grisly mayhem that NRA executive Wayne LaPierre piously denounced as “the filthiest form of pornography” in his December 21, 2012 attack on the movie industry.

As of December 29, 2012—more than a week after LaPierre’s accusatory rant—a personal visit to the museum by the author confirmed that the latter of the two exhibits (“Hollywood Guns”) was still going strong. The NRA was peddling the exhibit brochure in its museum shop.

 2002—“Real Guns of Reel Heroes”

 In March 2002 the NRA opened at the National Firearms Museum its first special exhibit of guns in the movies. The display, “Real Guns of Reel Heroes,” was said to have been the NRA’s most successful exhibit as of April 2010.

“Think ‘Lights! Camera! Guns!’ and you conjure up probably 70 percent of American movie history, maybe the best of it,” opined Stephen Hunter, then the Washington Post’s film critic, an ardent gun enthusiast, and later a writer for the NRA. “That’s the history the NRA celebrates: masculine, aggressive, violent, adventurous, unapologetic and unbowed, which is pretty much a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.”

Many of the guns celebrated in this NRA museum exhibit were from westerns and historical dramas which might plausibly be argued to be not so terribly violent as to merit LaPierre’s “pornography” rating, notwithstanding the display of a knife that actor John Wayne used to “scalp an Indian” in the film The Searchers. But at least two others were clearly problematic under the LaPierre film porno standard.

Dirty Harry. One was the 1971 film Dirty Harry, first of a series starring Clint Eastwood as renegade San Francisco police Inspector Harry Callahan. “Violence is a given in the world of ‘Dirty Harry’ Callahan,” one critic noted. Another described “the unrepentant violence of Dirty Harry.” New York Times critic Vincent Canby wondered, “Will we ever see the day when it will be possible to give an ‘X’ [most restrictive film rating] on principle to all of Clint Eastwood’s ‘Dirty Harry’ movies, including the new ‘Sudden Impact’?”  Of the latter film in the Dirty Harry series, Canby wrote, “Though the movie’s allure is exactly the same as a porn film’s, the rating is ‘R.’”

clinteastwood gun at NRA

The S&W Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver featured in the violent “Dirty Harry” movies is also featured by the NRA in its temple of worship to guns.

One might think the NRA would eschew a film with such criticism. But for enthusiasts like Stephen Hunter the gun violence is not only acceptable, but positively exciting. Here is what Hunter wrote of the appearance of Dirty Harry’s Model 29 Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum revolver in the NRA’s “Real Guns” exhibit:

So what’s the most famous gun in movie history? Wouldn’t it be: “. . . but being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question…Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?” The punk felt lucky, and it was a permanently bad career move, as Clint Eastwood nailed him with the giant Smith & Wesson. Ka-boom! He did a black flip into a scummy SoCal pond, as his eyeballs eight-balled and he dropped his own piddly 9mm pistol on the way down, maybe the most famous gun moment in movie history. How could that gun not be there? After all, it — that is, one of three such N-frame Smith revolvers purchased for the films “Dirty Harry” and “Magnum Force” — was presented to screenwriter John Milius, who is now on the NRA board of directors. So there it is in an Eastwood panel, where many of Clint’s guns reside.

Pulp Fiction. The other film in the 2002 NRA exhibit that one might think problematic under LaPierre’s standard was director Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 film, Pulp Fiction, starring among others John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bruce Willis.  One critic wrote of this film, “Tarantino caresses violence like a lover on speed. And there is plenty of it in ‘Pulp Fiction.’ Brains are splattered over a car and bits stick to Jackson’s hair; faces are rearranged from beatings.”

All the splattered brains, summary executions by drug gangsters, and violent male rape of Pulp Fiction, however, did not deter the NRA from displaying a Colt Model 1911 .45 ACP pistol used in the movie by actor John Travolta—one of eight of the make and model in the exhibit.

2010-Present—“Hollywood Guns”

 In 2010, the NRA announced a new museum exhibit, the currently ongoing “Hollywood Guns” exhibit.  Writer Stephen Hunter wrote an article for American Rifleman magazine, one of the NRA’s mainline publications. Hunter described the new exhibit as “a follow-up to NRA’s most successful exhibit, ‘Real Guns of Reel Heroes,’ of a few years back and possibly even better. If you love guns or you love movies or, still luckier, you love guns and movies, this is a trip you cannot miss.”

The NRA used Hunter’s article as the “Introduction” to its official guide to the museum exhibit. The writing offers insights into an almost sexual passion for guns, and documents the NRA’s hypocrisy about violent films:

I was fortunate enough to get an advance prowl through the museum’s vault where, pre-exhibition, the guns were being accumulated and stored. It was like going to Valhalla without the inconvenience of having to die first. So many guns, so little time. As karma decreed, my eyes first lit on the cut-down, suppressed Remington Model 11-87 Javier Bardem committed such mayhem with in “No Country For Old Men.” Who could not notice this twisted sister of a piece…

Pulp Fiction Cropped

Brain spatter, ruthless murders by drug gangster hit-men, and unrelieved violence might seem to qualify a movie for Wayne LaPierre’s porno test. But LaPierre is okay with displaying this revolver from “Pulp Fiction” in the NRA museum.

Dirty Harry and Pulp Fiction continue to be featured in the new and improved NRA guns in the movies exhibit. But even more problematic films have been added. The following presents a representative but by no means exhaustive sample of movies that escaped Wayne LaPierre’s fickle porno meter in the NRA’s “Hollywood Guns” exhibit.

No Country for Old Men. Hunter’s adulatory reference to “suppressed Remington Model 11-87” quoted above alluded to a silenced shotgun used by an assassin in the gory 2007 film No Country for Old Men, written and directed by brothers Ethan and Joel Coen, and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin.

No Country Shotgun Cropped

“No Country for Old Men” passed Wayne LaPierre’s porno-meter test. The NRA museum brochure describes professional assassin Anton Chigurh as “one of the screen’s most prolific and emotionless killers.”

“No one should go into ‘No Country for Old Men’ underestimating the unnerving intensity of its moments of on-screen violence, its parade of corpses and geysers of spurting blood,” the Los Angeles Times warned in 2007.

The character that Hunter’s “karma” brought him to was Javier Bardem’s “Anton Chigurh, a hired assassin and psychopath, whose latest idea of fun is killing unsuspecting strangers with a device used to slaughter steers. It’s an oxygen tank attached to a hand-held pile driver that shoots a rod a few inches with great power. The effect is like a gunshot without a bullet.”

Reservoir Dogs. When director Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs opened in 1992, it was reported that “the movie is so graphic that dozens of repulsed viewers fled early screenings.” No wonder. “In one of the most disturbing sequences, a dancing criminal tortures a hysterical police officer at knife point, maiming his face and drenching his battered body in gasoline.”

Reservoir Dogs Cropped

Criticism of “Reservoir Dogs” for its excessive violence did not deter Wayne LaPierre, executive producer of the NRA’s “Hollywood Guns” exhibit, from including these two handguns in the show.

“Strong violence is Tarantino’s passion, and he embraces it with gleeful, almost religious, fervor,” wrote the Los Angeles Times. “An energetic macho stunt, ‘Reservoir Dogs’…glories in its excesses of blood and profanity, delighting…in going as far over the top as the man’s imagination will take it.”

Curiously, the excessive violence in Reservoir Dogs has not deterred the NRA from displaying in its “Hollywood Guns” exhibit two Smith & Wesson 9mm semiautomatic pistols used by actors Steve Buscemi and Harvey Keitel in the film.

Other violent films in the current NRA exhibit include The Departed, given an R rating in 2006 “for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, some strong sexual content and drug material,” and 1998’s Die Hard.

The NRA Marketing Angle

The NRA’s motive in mounting such exhibits—putting aside the bizarre obsession with guns evident in the National Firearms Museum—is simply to exploit the popularity of movies to draw people into the museum and the NRA. “The NRA is hoping the pop-culture exhibit will attract people who would not usually visit the firearms museum, which features a permanent collection of 2,000 guns,” Cox News reported in 2002.

“It offers people that otherwise might not cross the street to come into this building…an opportunity to see something that’s very, very interesting and, hopefully, they might see other things along the way,” [museum curator Philip] Schreier told the news service. “I mean, who doesn’t like films?”

Schreier stated that in the first weekend of the exhibit, the museum attracted three times the number of visitors as on the same weekend in the preceding year.

 Wayne LaPierre Channels William B. (Bill) Ruger

 Both of the NRA museum’s movie guns exhibits were mounted in its William B. Ruger Gallery.  Ruger was an icon of the gun industry, idolized for building Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc., into a major force in the world of guns and gun marketing in America.

Ruger also designed the P-89 type of semiautomatic pistol that Colin Ferguson used in December 1992 to kill six people and wound 17 on a Long Island commuter train in New York. Asked about his responsibility for the massacre, Ruger blamed movies and television, and scoffed at school shootings.

Ruger blames Hollywood violence for twisting America’s conception of firearms. “Movies and TV these days have sold the idea of the shootout as though that were the purpose of firearms,” he said. “TV is an enemy of civilization. You take the program violence away and all these immature, slightly crazy mentalities watching that would no longer be stimulated by what they see on television.” He believes the problem of guns in school has been “greatly exaggerated.” “I just have to wonder how many schoolchildren go to school and worry about getting shot. If there are some rotten kids who are carrying a gun, that can’t happen very often. But it gets a lot of play with the press,” he said. The real danger to American society, he says, is not firearms makers but gun control advocates.

Thus, 20 years before the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary, Bill Ruger offered essentially the same excuse that Wayne LaPierre used to divert attention from the gun industry and its responsibility after a mass shooting.

Internet Promotions by the NRA

The NRA also promotes its love idyll with Hollywood guns and the gun industry through an extensive, sophisticated structure on the internet. It has more than a dozen separate sites, each designed to hone in on the specific interest of different groups of gun owners and potential gun owners, all the while serving the marketing interests of the gun industry.

The scope of this presence may be seen in one glance at http://membership.nrahq.org/othersites.asp. One of the sites is that of the National Firearms Museum. http://www.nramuseum.org/. A blurb and link there drives traffic to an NRA blog, which in turn promotes “NRA’s Guns & Gold – the sizzle reel from Sportsman Channel,”  a teaser video for a television series that serves as another marketing channel for the NRA and the gun industry. “See super slow-mo shots of watermelons going kablewie, closeups of rare and exotic firearms along with a couple of cutup segments from NRA Museum Director Jim Supica and Senior Curator Phil Schreier.” http://www.nrablog.com/post/2012/12/06/NRAs-Guns-Gold-the-sizzle-reel-from-Sportsman-Channel.aspx. The “cutups” of Supica and Schreier may also be seen on the NRA museum curator’s channel on You Tube, http://www.youtube.com/user/NFMCurator?feature=watch.

Doubting Stephen—the NRA Refuted Within Its Own Ranks

 “I’m not sure this [movie violence] is necessarily the bad thing that so many assume it to be.”

Stephen Hunter

Hunter and Schreier

Phil Schreier (left) of the National Firearms Museum and Stephen Hunter playing with guns from violent movies in the William B. Ruger Gallery of the museum.

Before Stephen Hunter was a scrivener for NRA publications, he was a movie critic at The Baltimore Sun newspaper, and later at the Washington Post. In 1995 he published Violent Screen, a book of recollections about his work and the movies.  Hunter addressed the issue of movie violence in an introductory essay, in which he apparently concluded that—contrary to the self-serving assertions of Wayne LaPierre and Bill Ruger before him—violent movies not only do not cause violence, but may indeed prevent it.

Here is Stephen Hunter’s case for movie violence:

I have always felt it a point of honor as a movie critic not to pretend that, as an advanced thinker, I am somehow above the lure of violence in a film. Indeed, my best pieces here seem to be about movies where I’ve made some emotional contact with violence and have let it sweep me away, fire off all my synapses, liberate my imagination. In fact, I think one of the reasons that we go to movies is FOR the violence: it enables us to project ourselves and our hostilities into some form of righteous rage and take charge and triumph in a world of the imagination where a world of reality obdurately refuses to be taken charge of or allow triumph. I’m not sure this is necessarily the bad thing that so many assume it to be. Critics of American movies love to zero in on the relatively few copycat killings that the odd picture will inspire, but nobody’s able to chronicle the times that angry men have seethed toward violence but been released from its mandates when a story so gripped their imagination that they lost hold of themselves and their anger in witnessing it.

 Gold on Silver — The Gun Industry Connection

 “These three industries—the gun manufacturers, the magazines and the movies—clearly interrelate in their willingness to serve and profit from this audience.”

Stephen Hunter

 In spite of the self-righteous blustering of the likes of NRA paladins Bill Ruger and Wayne LaPierre, the movies are a major marketing tool for the gun industry. Everyone who is anyone in both industries knows that.

Guns and realistic gun models are supplied to filmmakers by prop houses, and gun makers lobby the prop houses to use their makes and models.  The illustration in the NRA’s “Hollywood Movies” catalog credits a number of these prop houses as the source of guns in the display. Among such houses credited in the catalog’s acknowledgements page are The Prop Store of London, Hollywood Guns & Props, Cinema Weaponry, and Stembridge Gun Rentals.

world war z

The gun industry is already salivating over the upcoming Brad Pitts movie.

Gun industry insiders openly discuss the value of gun placement in movies. “With shotguns, heavily recommended for anti-zombie defense, sales could really pick up after World War Z comes out next year starring Brad Pitt and written by Mel Brooks son,” enthused one industry public relations outlet. “Movies have more influence on which guns sell than politicians.”

“I really like the lever actions that have been around for a long time,” a California gun dealer told Shooting Industry, the premier gun business magazine, in 2012. “People love them from Western movies.”

The NRA’s own catalog and magazine writer, Stephen Hunter, wrote an incisive essay in 1989 in which he described quite well the rise of assault weapons (which he calls exotic guns, but describes accurately) and the mutual exploitation of the gun industry, the movie industry, and the gun fan press.  Appropriately enough, the June 8, 1986 article was titled “Guns are Gold on Today’s Silver Screen.”

Here is a salient excerpt from the article, as reproduced in Hunter’s book, Violent Screen:

 Neither the western heritage nor the [James] Bondian cult of expertise could quite explain the exponential growth of weapons-fixated films of the 1980s. What does explain “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” for example, which zeroes in on the M-60 machine gun with a gynecologist’s clinicalness [sic]; or “The Terminator,” which boasts a wardrobe of exotic weapons not seen in normal life this side of a SWAT-team’s vault? First of all, the development must be seen in terms of larger social trends.  One of them reflects a curious and largely unreported-upon tendency: the growth of an exotics-weapons cult, which manifests itself in a variety of ways, of which the movies are but one. Another is the fact that gun manufacturers, who for years turned out hunting, target-shooting and self-defense weapons, have found in the past decade a new market for exotic weapons. Thus, many of them manufacture semi-automatic versions of the hard-core automatic weapons previously limited to military and police usage. It is now possible to buy a semi-automatic Uzi or MAC-10 or AK-47 or M-16 in virtually any gun store in America, and there clearly are buyers for such weapons. Another manifestation of this tendency is what might be called the exotic weaponry press: Whereas 10 years ago there were but three or four magazines that covered sporting and target shooting, now there are dozens of magazines that concentrate on exotic weapons, such as Exotic Firepower, S.W.A.T., Soldier of Fortune, Magnum Handguns, Combat Shooting, Gung-Ho, American Eagle and the like. These three industries–the gun manufacturers, the magazines and the movies–clearly interrelate in their willingness to serve and profit from this audience. Gun buffs may not form a significant part of the American film audience numerically, but they are passionate about their loves; they go to the movies, they buy the magazines and they buy the firearms to see the guns shoot. Film companies realize this, and frequently use the specialized-firearms press as a way to target this specialized audience by permitting special access to the gun magazines, which in turn will run admiring and non-critical articles.

 Hunter may—and apparently has—changed his personal perspective on guns. But the facts as he wrote them in his 1989 essay have not changed.  The trends in the industry’s marketing of military-derived semiautomatic assault weapons and other “exotic” killing machines have only gotten worse.

The slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School by Adam Lanza wielding an “exotic” Bushmaster assault rifle is evidence enough of Hunter’s prescience in 1989.

Gaston Glock’s Golden Movie Marketing Strategy

 “The [Glock] handgun’s adoption as the unofficial firearm of Hollywood brought it to the attention of people far beyond law enforcement and serious gun-owning circles.”

Paul M. Barrett

Virginia Tech Mass Shooter Cho Used Glock Handgun

Virginia Tech Mass Shooter Seung Hui Cho was among those “far beyond law enforcement and serious gun-owning circles” who bought what writer Paul Barrett calls “America’s handgun” — the Glock semiautomatic pistol.

Paul M. Barrett, an assistant managing editor and senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek, wrote the book GLOCK: The Rise of America’s Gun. The book relates how the former Austrian toolmaker Gaston Glock created and cannily marketed a highly-successful line of semiautomatic pistols in the United States.

On NPR’s Fresh Air interview show with host Terry Gross, Barrett explained that an important part of Glock’s marketing strategy was to get screen time in Hollywood. “In 1990, the Glock began to appear in the hands of police officers in Law and Order and other police procedural shows,” relates the summary of Barrett’s appearance on Fresh Air. “It was also used by Bruce Willis in the movie Die Hard 2. Willis’ character gave a long soliloquy touting the advantages of using a Glock.”

“[He] introduced the gun as a character to people who don’t know anything about guns,” Barrett said.

The internet website MarketingProfs enthused in detail about the Glock marketing strategy in an article titled “Five Things You Can Learn From Glock.” The article described in things “4” and “5” that one can learn exactly how Glock played Hollywood prop houses to brand its pistols in the public’s mind:

4. Put your product in the right hands

Getting the Glock in movies was another strategy. Movie studios rely on prop masters who specialize in weapons to help them procure the guns they need to make movies and teach movie stars how to look like they know what they are doing when they have a gun in their hand. Glock went after these prop masters specifically, making it easy for them to get Glocks when they needed them (other gun manufacturers were seldom so accommodating), and not being too prescriptive about how the guns were used (some manufacturer insisted, for example, that their guns were only for the good guys). Thanks to their efforts, the Glock finally hit the big screen with Bruce Willis in Die Hard II.

5. It doesn’t matter what they say, so long as they’re talking

When Bruce Willis talked about the Glock in Die Hard II, he referred to it as a German gun that was made of porcelain and therefore could evade detection by airport security. None of these things were true (the Glock is Austrian, made primarily of plastic, and can be detected by metal detectors), but that didn’t matter. Gun fans were more than happy to jump on the inaccuracies and lampoon typical Hollywood idiocy, showing that even (or especially) bad information can feed the buzz machine.

NRA Ex Glock

The Glock 19 has starred not only in mass shootings in the United States, but also in executive producer Wayne LaPierre’s “Hollywood Guns” exhibit at the National Firearms Museum.

Sure enough, a Glock 19 9mm semiautomatic pistol used by actor Mel Gibson in the 2010 gore-fest Edge of Darkness is among the guns featured in the NRA’s “Hollywood Guns” exhibit. This movie apparently slipped through NRA boss Wayne LaPierre’s porno meter in spite of its R rating for “strong bloody violence and language.”

In an enthusiastic article promoting his book, Paul Barrett wrote, “The [Glock] handgun’s adoption as the unofficial firearm of Hollywood brought it to the attention of people far beyond law enforcement and serious gun-owning circles.”

Among the people “far beyond law enforcement and serious gun-owning circles” whose attention Glock caught are: Adam Lanza, the Newtown murderer who apparently shot himself to death with a Glock pistol; James Holmes, who was carrying a Glock when he unleashed death in an Aurora, CO movie theater; Jared Lee Loughner, who used his Glock in Tucson, AZ to kill six people and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords; and Seung Hui Cho, who used a Glock 19 along with another semiautomatic pistol to kill 32 people and wound 17 at Virginia Tech University.

Size Matters—The Barrett 50 Caliber Anti-Armor Sniper Rifle in the Movies and Games

 “While companies often pay to have their products appear in popular games, Barrett required payment to appear in Call of Duty and received it.”

The Murfreesboro Post

 The 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifle is a case in which precisely the same weapon is sold on the civilian market as that sold to the world’s armed services. Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc. is the leading supplier of 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifles to U.S. military forces and many other armies of the world.

It is almost impossible to exaggerate the lethality of the Barrett .50BMG anti-armor sniper rifles.  Capable of blasting through an inch of steel from a thousand yards away, the Barrett is one of the guns most sought after by Mexican drug lords, who have used its range and power to assassinate Mexican law enforcement and other government officials.

A Barrett sniper rifle used in the 2009 movie The Hurt Locker is among those in the NRA’s “Hollywood Guns” exhibit. According to Barrett’s home town newspaper, The Murfreesboro Post, that appearance is just the tip of the iceberg of the gun maker’s clever marketing strategy:

Many people who have never been in much more than hearing of a rifle shot are familiar with the iconic Barrett .50 caliber M107 rifle. The groundbreaking weapon that gave huge firepower capability, and thus survival ability and lethality, to small military groups has been featured in countless movies, television and even computer games. In fact the Barrett .50 is notably evident in America culture right now. The weapon is featured prominently in the nine-Oscar-nominated “The Hurt Locker,” meaning Barrett Firearms Manufacturing officials will be keeping a close eye on this year’s Academy Awards. And, the Barrett .50 is a valued resource in the amazingly popular video games, Call of Duty I and II, the best-selling first-person action game of all time with more than $1 billion in sales. While companies often pay to have their products appear in popular games, Barrett required payment to appear in Call of Duty and received it.

Barrett Hurt Cropped

The Barrett 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifle can penetrate an inch of steel from 1,000 yards. It’s a favorite not only of Mexican drug lords, but also of video game makers who pay Barrett Firearms for the privilege. These violent video games apparently pass Wayne LaPierre’s porno test, as evidenced by the rifle’s inclusion in the NRA “Hollywood Guns” exhibit.

Conclusion

 “The National Rifle Association — 4 million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters — join the nation in horror, outrage, grief and earnest prayer for the families of Newtown, Connecticut, who have suffered such an incomprehensible loss as a result of this unspeakable crime.”

Wayne LaPierre

The hypocrisy, one dares say duplicity, of the leadership of the National Rifle Association is beyond stunning.

The NRA is an integral element in the ruthless machinery of the gun industry that is butchering Americans in their homes, churches, workplaces, movie theaters, schools, and even military bases. Joined at the hip to the gun industry, the NRA has been an active cheerleader in the gun industry’s cynical promotion of the exotic guns that Stephen Hunter described in an earlier persona.

These killing machines are no longer exotic. Thanks in large part to the NRA, semiautomatic assault rifles, high-capacity semiautomatic pistols, and armor-piercing 50 caliber sniper rifles are common today in America. The consequences have shown up in the terror of small children about to die and the grief of mothers and fathers who must bury them.

Wayne LaPierre’s facile words of sympathy fall hollow in this charnel house.  His pitiful and transparently foolish attempt to blame movies, video games, society at large, the news media, and any politician who dares suggest even the most insipid form of gun control is obtuse and shameful.  As this report shows, the NRA itself has recklessly promoted the infatuation of a few with violent movies and guns simply to sell guns…and more guns…all to the certain harm of the many.

This must end. The fact is that neither movies nor video games, nor any other of the wondrous excuses the NRA can dream up are the cause of America’s gun violence epidemic.

Guns are.

Boy on Bike2

LESSON FROM MAJOR NIDAL MALIK HASAN, CHO SEUNG-HUI, AND JOHN ALLEN MUHAMMAD TO MS-13 HIT MEN AND BOSTON TERROR CELL: IT’S A POOR WORKMAN THAT BLAMES HIS TOOLS

In Afghanistan, bad manners, Crime, Gangs, Latino gangs, politics, Terrorism, Terrorism and counter-terrorism, Transnational crime on November 10, 2009 at 12:14 am
Cho-GunDM_468x396

Virginia Tech Shooter Cho Seung-Hui, Like Major Nidal Malik Hasan at Ft. Hood, Used a Killing Tool Widely and Easily Available on the U.S. Civilian Market to Decimate Virginia Tech Campus -- The High-Capacity Semi-Automatic Pistol

Fairly Civil‘s last post on the alleged plot by Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) leaders in El Salvador to assassinate an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent (“John Doe”) in Queens, New York, brought a skeptical response from some law enforcement quarters.  Here is the core of the post, which includes excerpts from an affidivait accompanying a request for an arrest warrant:

According to an affidavit filed in support of an arrest warrant, an MS-13 member specifically tasked to kill the ICE agent described the plot to federal agents. The gangsters were looking for an AK-47 or M-16 assault rifle to do the job.

The post also referred to a similar alleged MS-13 plot to kill LAPD gang detective Frank Flores, described in “The Plot to Whack a Cop,” which can be found here.

But retired Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department gang Sergeant Richard Valdemar questions in a private communication to the author whether these two incidents show a pattern, much less a shift, in MS-13’s abilities and intent regarding attacks on law enforcement officers:

Funny how in the many years (1993-2004) working with the FBI Task Force with numerous agents and agencies on the MS they would now fix on one LAPD Officer Flores in Los Angeles and one “John Doe” the ICE man in New York, and they can’t seem to find a AR-15 or AK-47 to do the dastardly deed. I think there have been a lot more effective cases and cops doing serious damage to the gang over the years than these two.

More likely …an informant, or couple of informants, got twisted in Los Angeles and New York, and gave up their own clique homeboys with information that they knew the cops would value (“they plan to kill a cop”). This kind of talk goes on a lot in the gang world, but the gang members don’t always go beyond the talking stage. And you, who has studied the trafficking in weapons associated with gangs (transnational gangs especially), can’t seriously buy the …”we can’t find an assault rifle to use” excuse.

At least one mid-level ICE official active in anti-gang operations in the Southwest agrees that one case does not make a pattern shift for MS-13 (the depredations and history of which are detailed in my book No Boundaries:  Transnational Latino Gangs and American Law Enforcement.)

Be that as it may, the cases raise an interesting question.  What kind of gangster or would-be terrorist can’t find the tools to do the job in the United States?

The gangsters in the ICE case allegedly were having problems finding their weapons of choice, i.e. a “fully automatic” M-16 or AK clone.  This echoed the case of would-be terrorists in Boston, posted here, who gave up a plot to shoot up shopping centers because they also could not obtain machine guns:

Fortunately, however, these jihadists thought they need machine guns, i.e., fully automatic weapons — hold the trigger down and the gun will fire until ammo is exhausted – to do the job. They gave up when they found out they could not obtain machine guns. However, knowledgeable experts understand that controlled fire from semiautomatic weapons — pull the trigger for each round — is at least as lethal and often more lethal than machine gun fire.

Thank g-d these extremist would-be terrorists were “weaponry pea brains.”

One might conclude that both of these cases simply reflect fortuitous ignorance on the part of would-be plotters.  Knowledge of firearms is not — as too many voices active in public fora apparently assume — easily received wisdom.  There is a stunning array of gun and ammunition types, with diverse capabilities, pros and cons, easily and widely available on the U.S. civilian gun market — not to mention the widespread criminal traffic in guns.  Any terrorist or gangster who complains about not being able to find the right tool for the job at hand is either a pea-brain or a poseur.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that!  But how long can we count on stupidity?

On the other hand, three successful mass shooters demonstrated that with firearms easily obtainable on the U.S. civilian market, a little bit of knowledge, premeditation, criminal intent, mental imbalance, and/or jihadist inspiration can be easily transformed into mass blood and carnage on … one wants to say “soft targets,” but how does one classify a U.S. Army fort?

Cho Seung-Hui committed suicide after killing 32 and wounding 25 in his infamous “Virginia Tech Massacre.” Washington Beltway sniper John Muhammad is scheduled to meet his maker after execution by lethal injection Tuesday, November 10. 1009, the U.S. Supreme Court having rejected his last-ditch appeal. Major Nidal Malik Hasan is alive at this writing, while government agencies try to figure out whether he was “merely” a jihadist gone nuts or a globally linked-in jihadist.

Major Hasan’s Choice for Killing Soldiers — The FN FiveseveN High Capacity Semiautomatic Pistol

FNfivesevn

Major Hasan's Pick for Soldier-Killing Machine -- FN's FiveseveN -- is Known in Mexico as the Matapolicia, or "Cop-Killer."

FN Herstal’s FiveseveN (cute name, eh?) semiautomatic pistol fires a small caliber round at very high velocity.  It is plain and simply a “vest-buster.”  The proprietary round-handgun combination is one of the most popular firearms smuggled by firearms traffickers into Mexico, where it is known as the matapolicia, or “cop killer.”

FN originally created the 5.7X28mm cartridge as the ammunition for the P-90 submachine gun.  The P-90 SMG was designed at the invitation of NATO and in response to military needs for a weapon to be used by “troops who needed both hands for other tasks, such as officers, NCOs and technical troops,” and that would be effective against the body armor that has become standard on the battlefield.

In the mid-1990s FNH set out to design a handgun to accompany the P90 SMG. This would not have been an issue if FN had stuck to its original profession that it would restrict the sale of its new armor-piercing ammunition and pistol.

The company clearly recognized the dangerous genie it was releasing. For example, a spokesman for the company told the Sunday Times in 1996 that the pistol was “too potent” for normal police duties and was designed for anti-terrorist and hostage rescue operations. The NRA’s American Rifleman claimed in 1999 that: “Law enforcement and military markets are the target groups of FN’s new FiveseveN pistol,” and told its readers, “Don’t expect to see this cartridge sold over the counter in the United States. In this incarnation, it is strictly a law enforcement or military round.” In 2000, American Handgunner magazine assured the public, “For reasons that will become obvious, neither the gun nor the ammunition will ever be sold to civilians or even to individual officers.”

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High Capacity of the Fiveseven Adds to Its Mass Killing Power

In fact, however, the gun is being freely sold to civilians today, along with clearly problematic ammunition, through a variety of channels. What changed was precisely nothing.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan most likely gave some serious thought to his choice of weapons. With its high capacity magazine, extremely high velocity round, and cop-killing notoriety in Mexico, the FN FiveseveN was quite demonstrably an effective choice.

The reasons that American Handgunner referred to in 2000 became “obvious” last Thursday as Hasan efficiently murdered soldiers at Fort Hood in cold blood.

Beltway Snipers Chose Bushmaster AR -15 Clone

John Allen Muhammad was the senior member of the infamous Beltway sniper duo. His minor sidekick, Lee Boyd Malvo, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the shootings, which took place over three weeks in October 2002 in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Ten people were killed and three others critically injured, as well as three other crime-related deaths attributed to the pair in Louisiana and Alabama.

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2002 Washington Beltway Snipers Used a Bushmaster AR-15 Clone Like This Rifle

Muhammad, a veteran of the Persian Gulf war, picked a type of firearm with which he was undoubtedly familiar — a Bushmaster AR-15 type clone of the military’s M-16 assault rifle.  Bushmaster made its mark and fortune by cranking out AR-15 clones that beat the impossibly porous 1994 Semiautomatic Assault Weapons “Ban.”

AR-15 rifles of this type are as common in America as weed-whackers in spring at a suburban hardware store.  Here’s the point for slow-readers in this context:  Any gangster or would-be terrorist who can’t get his hands on one of these guns — whether you call it a “semiautomatic assault rifle” or a “thunder-stick” — or one of the the AK clones that have been dumped in the country latterly by Eastern European manufacturers and U.S. import-whores is simply in the wrong game.

Cho’s Choice — Ex-Lockmaker Gaston Glock’s High Capacity Model 19

Virginia Tech shooter Cho chose as his lead weapon the Glock Model 19, perhaps the archetype of the modern high-capacity semiautomatic pistol.  Easy to shoot, quick to reload, and demanding neither skill nor experience when shooting down unsuspecting innocents, the Glock Model 19 is also a favorite of gangsters and assorted thugs from Vancouver to the Yucatan.

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Cho's Choice for Mass Murder -- Glock Model 19

“Tom Diaz has worn out some shoe leather—much like a good detective—in gathering facts, not myths or urban legend. “

—Chris Swecker, Former Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.

“Few people know more about the subject than Tom Diaz and no single book tells the whole story better than No Boundaries. If you really want to know what organized crime in America looks like today, then read this alarming book.”

—Rocky Delgadillo, former City Attorney of Los Angeles

Order No Boundaries from Amazon.com

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