As the vast bulk of American hunters close in on old age, firearms makers need a shot of youth to keep their profits flowing.
In a story sure to turn the stomachs of urban parents coast to coast, The New York Times reported this weekend that firearms makers have been engaging in a years-long, multimillion- dollar push to hook children and teenagers on the charms of gun culture. Among other efforts, the industry has started cooking up teen-focused magazine ads, offered "junior shooters" discounts on military-style semi-automatic rifles, sponsored youth handgun competitions, and lobbied to lower state age limits for hunting.
One study commissioned by the industry investigated ways companies could appeal to potential customers as young as eight.
So why are these companies suddenly so interested in elementary schoolers? According to the Times, the youth outreach efforts began about five years ago as an attempt to deal with the long-term declining popularity of gun sports, especially hunting, which have slowly fallen out of favor thanks to everything from urbanization to video games. Unfortunately, the article doesn't quite capture the gravity of the problem gun makers are facing. Much like every other part of the American economy supported mostly by Baby Boomers, weapons manufacturers might soon be facing a market crisis unless they can get kids excited about shooting.