Monday, October 2, 2017

American Fascination with Guns – Did it start with Harley Davidson?

American Fascination with Guns – Did it start with Harley Davidson?

In the wake of yet another preventable tragedy on American soil, Americans today are waking up to the news that more than fifty people have lost their lives and another four hundred injured in Las Vegas, NV. The social media sphere has been lighting up with thoughts and prayers to families of those injured or killed by an American who obtained a highly lethal automatic weapon to use against fellow Americans.

The debates will rage on about whether or not this is the time to talk about gun legislation as well as if this will cause a knee jerk reaction that will only make the situation worse. The question we should be asking ourselves is how exactly did we arrived at this place in time to begin with? If we find the answer to this question, then perhaps lives can be saved.

A lesson in history could possibly shed some light as to how America has become so heavily armed to begin with - why the fascination? In 1901, William S. Harley drew up plans for a small engine which was designed for use in a regular pedal-bicycle frame. Over the course of a few years, Harley and his friend Arthur Davidson worked on their motorized Bike in a Milwaukee machine shop. After finishing their invention, they found it unable to climb the hills around Milwaukee without pedal assistance.  

Of course, years later they perfected the engine, so much so that during WWI the US military purchased over 20,000 motorcycles from Harley-Davidson. It was the years between World War I and the Great Depression the company attempted to recruit more customers by advertising their brand to a younger audience by building plain bicycles. Besides the traditional diamond frame men's bicycle, models included a step-through frame 3-18 "Ladies Standard" and a 5-17 "Boy Scout" for youth.

Though the bicycle venture eventually fizzled, a marketing concept was born in America and that was to introduce a brand or product to the youth of the country in hopes that in later years the ROI in terms of bigger ticket items will pay off. The thought was “Hey I remember that as a kid, this is the adult version”, as such, we have witnessed kid gamers become adult gamers playing video games with more violence and gruesome graphics only seen on battlefields. Keeping this is mind, if you look around your home and you have kids of any age, do you see any toy guns (water, nerf, cap, or pretend)?  When you went Christmas shopping last year, do you remember how many guns lined the aisles? Probably not, but the next time you go to Walmart, Toys-R-Us, Family Dollar, Dollar General look around the toy aisle and you will be amazed.  On a recent trip to one of the above mentioned stores, I found in the two aisles of toys they offered, there were 31 different versions of guns, most of which, where non pistol, but semi-automatic in nature. (Boxes indicated for ages 3+) The guns represented approximately more than 1/3 of the toys offered.

Obviously, toy guns are not the root of all evil related to guns, but they are the seed planted in young minds and how those seeds grow are dependent on how they are cultivated throughout their environment. Taking guns out of the hands of toddlers would not be a violation of their rights but it may help change the culture in America. Legislators around the country should look at what is being marketed to young minds and how this sometimes has adverse effects in their adult lives. As parents, be mindful of what you buy your children, just because the neighbor kid has one, doesn’t mean your child has to have one as well.

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