Down With Big Gun

Ron Cohen is the CEO of Sig Sauer, the company that produced one of the guns that was used in Friday's Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre. You have probably never heard of Ron Cohen before. I know I never have. I tried to find a decent picture of him this weekend, but I came up empty. He may as well not exist.

In the wake of the shootings, Cohen's name has appeared in a grand total of one Google alert. This is by design. You aren't supposed to know anything about Ron Cohen or about Sig Sauer. Every time a tragedy happens and you, Mr. Gun Control Advocate, decide to lash out at the NRA, or at "our national obsession with guns," or at the classic straw man hunter who needs a 50-bullet clip just to chase down a squirrel, you're doing Ron Cohen, Sig Sauer, and everyone else at Big Gun a huge favor.

One of the amazing things about the gun control debate in America is the remarkable success with which gun manufacturers—Sig Sauer, Glock, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, The Freedom Group (yes, it's called the fucking Freedom Group)—have been able to avoid the conversation altogether. When you think of Glock, you think of a gun, and not of the company behind it. That needs to change. We've shit on cigarette companies for lying about cigarettes. We've shit on Roger Goodell and the NFL for underplaying head injuries. We're even making inroads against the sneaky bastards at BIG SUGAR for making us all hopeless fatasses. But here is an industry—firearms manufacturing—that makes products whose deadliness is disputed by NO ONE, not even the people who treasure those products. And yet the executives and shadowy international holding company execs—whose job is to flood the world with as many of these weapons as possible—skate by cloaked in blessed anonymity. Wanna know why nothing ever gets done about gun laws here in the US? This is why.

Gun manufacturers have successfully managed to shift virtually all blame for lax gun laws in America onto their lobbyists and their customers. It's no coincidence that companies like Sig Sauer, Freedom Group and Glock (which also made one of the weapons used in the killings) are privately held. They strive for minimum transparency, and they have achieved it. The NRA, bless its heart, is a front—a perfect little whipping boy designed to weather all of your abuse so that Ron Cohen can drive to and from his office without a reporter shoving a microphone in front of his stupid fucking face. They have taken phrases like "Gun control" and "the Second Amendment" and crafted them into permanent, bulletproof diversions. They've done such a good job of shielding themselves that Sig Sauer doesn't even feel compelled to issue a public statement when one of its weapons is used in a mass tragedy. They don't have to express their regrets or spew some bullshit about being dedicated to making sure guns are used safely. Higher profile companies have to send out public apologies when they send out a bad tweet. Big Gun does nothing and doesn't have to. Isn't that remarkable?

Gun manufacturers profit off of mass violence in America. See for yourself. Every time a massacre happens, gun sales go through the roof because liberals cry out for gun control, and then conservatives flee to buy as many guns as possible just in case those shady folks in the GUBMINT come calling for their precious arms. They've succeeded in getting gun owners to disguise their love of shooting shit under a bullshit pretense of one day having to form a militia just in case Hitler II gets elected President. And they've succeeded in letting those people fight their flame wars for them. You have to hand it the gun industry, really. It's an ingenious little sales cycle they've created. Every massacre draws attention to the product, yet somehow NEVER to the people ultimately responsible for their production. It's always the hunter that takes the brunt of liberal ire. Or the redneck, or the guy at the gun show selling them secondhand, or Mike Huckabee saying something fucking stupid. Meanwhile, Ron Cohen eats his dinner uninterrupted.

In order to succeed in preventing future massacres, it would be wise to publicly hold these people accountable. Here's how:

  • 1. Do not feed the trolls. Never say the phrase "gun control" or get into a message board argument with Jimbo3421 on Politico ever again. You've done nothing. In fact, you've done exactly what you've been trained to do. You are playing your role to perfection.
  • 2. Re-brand the gun debate. The greatest PSA campaign in the history of advertising is the Truth campaign, which did away with the traditional "smoking is bad for you" ads that proved ineffective. Instead, what the "Truth" campaign did was demonize tobacco companies—NOT demonize tobacco or tobacco users—and say THESE PEOPLE ARE FUCKING YOU OVER. They are lying to you and trying to kill you and they are getting rich while doing it. When you change the language, you change people's perception of what's really at stake. Make this a crime issue, not an endless discussion about what guns MEAN to everyone.
  • 3. Exposure. I suggest you do everything you can to draw attention to Ron Cohen, or Freedom Group CEO George Kollitides (here's a photo to get you started). You're gonna have to work hard, because these people go out of their way to remain hidden from view. Do not send an angry letter to Wayne LaPierre. He eats those for breakfast. Send your letters to THESE men. Why are these men not under any scrutiny? Have you ever seen ANY of these fuckers brought up in front of a Congressional subcommittee? Someone needs to put a microphone in front of Ron Cohen and ask him, "What are you doing to make sure your guns aren't used to kill children?" Then we can all watch him fumble for a decent answer and then we can call him a prick. These men need to be made famous, far more famous than Adam Lanza. People need to camp out by their lawns smoking weed and holding up signs that say OCCUPY GUN STREET.
  • 4. Lawsuits. There's no point in going to a politician to help make your community safer. They're pussies, and many of them helped engineer lucrative government contracts for these companies to equip our armed forces and local police departments. Ultimately, money is the only language the gun industry really understands. Everything else is white noise. Cigarette companies were sued into oblivion. The NFL is currently doing everything short of renaming the sport "tag" to avoid punishing class action decisions. When Sig Sauer sends its products out into the world, their responsibility for them apparently ends. Why? You could argue that it's grossly negligent to create a fucking machine gun—to craft a weapon made for war and then sell it to civilians because it helps expand your market share—and then let it go whenever the wind may take it. At least, some hippie dippy "activist judge" might see it that way, and then people might be forced to actually do something. (Update: A reader has pointed out that gun manufacturers cannot be sued when their products are used in crimes.)
  • That's what needs to happen. We don't need everyone to argue about the same shit they've always argued about. I wanna throw up, it all seems so pointless. I have three kids and I would like to live in a country where I don't have to worry about them getting fucking shot in the head any time they head off to homeroom. I would like to live in a country where I don't hop on the web and see photos of grieving parents screaming in agony because they are enduring the kind of anguish that will black out everything else they ever say or do. Currently, this country doesn't fit the bill. This is not a safe place. And Ron Cohen—FUCKHEADED ASSHOLE RON COHEN WHOSE NAME SHOULD BE IN BRIGHT SHINY LIGHTS ABOVE TIMES SQUARE SO THAT EVERYONE KNOWS PRECISELY WHO MAKES THE GUNS THAT ARE USED TO KILL PEOPLE—he is a big reason why.

    Image by Jim Cooke.