Hollywood and Guns: Why We’re Winning

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*This post is an excerpt from Concealed Carry Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 5, July 2018.

In some form or another, concealed carry is now the law of the land in all 50 states. Candidates who favor more gun control usually lose. Every day, more and more individuals decide that it’s time they bought a firearm, and that decision often leads to the realization that it’s time they bought four or five more firearms.

The fact of the matter is that firearms are fun and they’re a hobby that easily demonstrates its worth. It’s tough to golf your way out of a home invasion, and even the dimmest of bulbs notice that the skills you pick up from recreational shooting could have other, more real-world applications during an emergency.

It’s more than the fun and the practicality of it though; I want you to set those aside for a moment. It’s also our old friend Hollywood. Try as its powerbrokers might to disenfranchise you of your fundamental human rights, the very fact that Americans watch movies and that movies often showcase guns is working against the anti-civil-rights crowd out there in LA-LA Land.

Unintended Consequences

You see, the whole point of movies – particularly action movies – is to be cool, hold public interest and make money. Filmmakers can achieve the latter in any number of ways, but there are a few tried-and-tested tools that have outshined all others for over a century when it comes to the former: cars, motorcycles, boats, trucks, horses, aircraft and firearms. The more you think about it, the more you realize firearms themselves are inanimate movie stars, and that’s where Hollywood’s trouble begins to compound.

As I’m certain you all at least suspected, we’re winning because guns are fun and guns are interesting, but that’s just the beginning. That’s before Hollywood even gets involved.

James Bond always drove an impossibly tricked-out Aston-Martin, but good luck on even ending up in the same county as one of those.

His firearms, on the other hand, are common by comparison. You could get a new PPK at pretty much any gun shop tomorrow afternoon, and used specimens sell almost constantly at the online auction houses. Even if you demand a period-correct PPK that an actual Bond-like character may have used during the Cold War, something along the lines of a West German-marked or maybe even a pre-War unit from the ’30s, all you have to do to locate one is to switch the search preferences on GunBroker.com to “PRICE: High to Low.”

We’re winning because guns are fun, guns are interesting, and guns are accessible.

Say ’60s Bond isn’t your thing; maybe you’re a little more Daniel Craig than Sean Connery. Maybe you watch all of the modern action flicks and either ogle the cars parachuting out of airplanes or chuckle at heroes base-jumping off of skyscrapers while firing H&K UMPs at terrorists and then landing on moving motorcycles. Maybe that whole scene is what you find interesting.

Well, that Kawasaki Ninja H2R you saw Keanu Reeves speed away on will run you about 55 grand, but the AR you saw him rappel through the skylight with, as kitted-out for a high-speed, low-drag Hollywood action film, will only set you back about $8,000. If you just want a halfway decent 20-footer, meaning a rifle that from 20 feet away looks like the one Keanu was carrying, that’ll only be about $800 after optics, furniture and miscellaneous rail bits.

We’re winning because guns are fun, guns are interesting, and guns are affordable.

Picture Yourself

Maybe Keanu isn’t your style but you’re a huge Johnny Depp fan and have a few screws loose in the part of the brain that makes people collect things. Maybe your trust fund just opened up and you want to acquire yourself the Full Depp Set: an M1921 Thompson submachine gun just like the one in Public Enemies, a Model 19 just like the one in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a Colt Python from back in his 21 Jumpstreet days, the whole smokin’ works.

Even with springing for an actual full-auto Thompson (at an average of about $25,000, depending on how period-correct you want to get), a full-auto M16A1 like he had slung in Platoon (another $25,000) and one model of every firearm he’s ever used in any movie or television program in which he’s ever appeared, you’re still spending less than what thousands of recreational offshore boaters spend on crafts that will unquestionably depreciate in value within the next decade. The NFA firearms mentioned above, however, will likely only appreciate.

If you’re willing to go on the cheap with no full-auto paperwork, American and imported reproductions and definitely a DIY-kit flintlock rather than a legit artifact to cover your bases for all of those Pirates of the Caribbean flicks, you’re getting the job done for less than some people spend on a bass boat, let alone a serious ski boat, neither of which will maintain its value like a quality firearm.

We’re winning because guns are fun, guns are interesting, and guns hold value better than almost any other hobby.

The True National Pastime

Think all of this is weirdo head-shrinker stuff? Think anyone who would become interested in or buy guns because of a movie they saw is a rarefied kind of fool? We haven’t even gotten to the most basic, knee-jerk reactions that not only help the industry and the movement along but also dang near subsidize it.

The number of people who’ve bought firearms for strictly nostalgic reasons is almost incalculable. I know a woman who bought both AR- and AK-pattern rifles after the sunset of Bill Clinton’s 1994 “Assault Weapons” ban because as a sixth-grader, she strongly looked up to the “Sarah Connor” character in Terminator 2. On a much larger scale, Western films and television programs and Americans’ memories of them spawned the entire “Cowboy Action Shooting” industry. (You did notice that there’s a lot of “Cowboy Action Shooting” but not nearly as much “Pilgrim Action Shooting” or “Black Hawk War Action Shooting,” right?)

The very presence of modern-manufacture lever-action rifles and carbines is indicative of a borderline-exclusively nostalgia-oriented market. Lever-action rifles are expensive to manufacture, they’re complicated and slow to load when compared to modern designs, and they’re often problematic when it comes to modern optics. Atop those marketing challenges, they’re usually chambered for either cartridges really only suitable for small- to medium-sized game or, on the other end of the spectrum, cartridges that deem them what I call “Zoo Guns” … as in, “This gun can be used to dispatch anything found in any zoo on this planet.” Yet lever guns continue to thrive in the North and South American markets because they simply mean too much to all of us to let them go. From the Arctic Circle down to Tierra del Fuego, the Western Hemisphere loves its lever guns, and that has nothing to do with modern manufacturing or convenience or performance or anything other than what they’ve meant to us in the past.

We’re winning because guns are fun, guns are interesting and, to a few hundred million of us, the thought of not owning the guns of our ancestors is a non-starter.

The nostalgia doesn’t even have to be rooted in reality or anything that tangible. The man in question’s ancestors may not have even arrived in this country until the proverbial West was long “won” nor even owned any firearms of any kind, but that doesn’t change the fact that back before he could even speak English, his father scraped together the pennies to catch every Tom Mix and William S. Hart picture that came through the local theater. That doesn’t change the fact that as a boy himself, this man listened to every episode of Gunsmoke on the radio and, as technology progressed, he watched every episode of Bonanza, Rawhide and Have Gun, Will Travel as religiously as some kept a box score at the ballgame.

By the time that man’s old enough to afford a firearm, what do you think the chances are he’ll at least be open to buying a revolver or a lever-action carbine?

Stick to Your Guns

While a lot of us love to hate Hollywood — and for plenty of good reasons — I elect to thank Hollywood for all it’s done to help promote and, in certain ways, even create the fundamental gun culture that we hold so dear. As so many who work in that town endeavor to destroy what this nation’s founded on, I take a great measure of joy in knowing deep down that they’ll always fail. After all, those who are shortsighted enough to demand gun bans while cashing paychecks earned making films that do little more than demonstrate to everyone how fun and interesting guns are aren’t going to be too effective at anything else they set their minds to.

Editor’s Note:

We’re happy to announce that Hollywood has finally produced a specifically faith-based, pro-2A movie. Patrick Johnston has adapted his novel The Reliant as a feature film starring Kevin Sorbo. The Reliant will premiere at select cinemas across the country on Oct. 24, 2019. Watch for our special USCCA report in the days leading up to its release.

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