Starting January 20, insomniacs and fervid firearms enthusiasts will have a place to go: GunTV. The home shopping network television show will provide six hours of early morning programming initially, from 1:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. ET, with plans to expand to 24/7 within its first year.
The timing for entrepreneurs Doug Bornstein and Valerie Castle, each with a successful history of using late-night TV to market other items, couldn’t be better. With a record-setting number of background checks on Black Friday and the Left’s continued propaganda that somehow restricting legitimate gun owners’ rights will reduce violent crime, the market just may be ripe for an outlet such as GunTV.
Its website claims it will contain “unique” content along with safety tips and other services:
The GunTV live shopping channel will provide unique content and a wide range of firearms and related product and services to a[n] Internet audience … [and to] provide seamless fulfilment and customer service.
Pushback from anti-gun groups was immediate and predictable. Said Laura Cutilletta, the senior staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “My gut reaction is this is the last thing we need. When you look at the number of gun deaths in this country every day, the idea that somebody’s ‘brilliant marketing scheme’ is to get more guns into the hands of more people is just a little bit outrageous.” Especially if they’re sleepy: “Buying a gun is a serious business. 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.”
Said co-founder Castle: “Our business philosophy is filling the need, not creating one.” She added:
People are super busy, and if they can tune into our content at a time when they are not in the throes of their busy day, and really sit and pay attention to how to safely use the product and store it, as well as get the back story of the product … you are going to get way more information about that product.
And besides, all the rules about purchasing a firearm still apply. Through an arrangement with Sports South, a Louisiana firearms distributor, when a viewer sees a product hit his “price point” on the program, he calls the toll-free number to order the item. That store then sends it to a FFL (Federal Firearms Licensee) dealer close by, and the customer picks it up there after completing the paperwork. Most FFLs charge a modest fee for the service.
When lawyer Cutilletta learned how the system will work, she backed off.
How large is the market for firearms? The founders say that “GunTV will engage America’s 85+ million outdoors men and women and owners of more than 270 million guns in the USA with world class television shopping content, broad selection of firearms and related consumer goods, original programming, gun safety, personal security and self-defense education.”
According to IBIS World, the annual revenue of gun and ammunition stores in the United States is more than $3 billion, with profit margins exceeding 15 percent.
But a real measure of the size of the market that Bornstein and Castle might be tapping into could be measured informally by examining traffic on gun-related blogs. Since John, a Tennessee resident and firearms aficionado with the username Hickok45, started posting videos on YouTube, he has had millions of visitors.
He started modestly, making his first video for family and friends requesting his advice and counsel. For convenience he posted the clumsily made video on YouTube. By September 2011, he’d had more than 100,000 visitors, and in honor of that surprising result, he reposted it. More than 550,000 have seen it since. More millions have seen the many others he has posted since.
The cool thing about YouTube is that anybody can start a channel and put up anything that floats their boat. I do what I do, and others do what they do. I recommend others do the same and fill any gaps they perceive in what all of us are doing. There’s room for more good channels; that’s for sure. All it takes is a camera and Internet access.
For the founders of GunTV, all it takes is the Second Amendment and the free market. It’s just one more way gun owners (or prospective ones) will be able to obtain the information they need as they exercise one of their most precious rights.
A graduate of an Ivy League school and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.