The modern firearms industry’s mission couldn’t be clearer: profiting off the sales of weapons that can turn lone shooters into mass killers, or armed discontents into a homeland security threat. Documents produced by the industry’s top trade group even advise leaning into the panic buying that can follow mass shootings, by targeting a market segment it calls the “Anxious Buyer,” shorthand for folks who say they “want to buy a firearm before it’s too late.” The market research directs that assault weapons — “more frequently targeted for sales restrictions” — are the “best bets” for these would-be gun buyers.

The mass murder in Lewiston was a tragedy, but not an accident. It is a choice. And it’s one that the gun industry made, and has doubled down on — pushing tens of millions of massacre-ready weapons on the American public. By the industry’s own accounting, America’s domestic assault-weapon arsenal stands at more than 24 million guns — roughly one for every 10 adults — with a record 2.7 million introduced in 2020 alone.

The Lewiston attack was a logical expression of what gun manufacturers now market assault rifles for — deadly domination. The industry pitches “battle-proven” AR-platform assault rifles to civilians with imagery of special-forces troops and taglines like “Core Combat,” “Use What They Use,” and “Your Mission Awaits.” Such slogans dovetail with even more reckless marketing from makers of “tactical” accessories — who pitch “gear for your daily gunfight,” “assault packs,” and carrying cases with names like “Urban Warfare,” and even “Coffin.”

The industry’s alpha-male sales pitches promise buyers the power to “control your destiny.” According to law-enforcement records, [Lewiston shooter Robert] Card had been haunted by phantom voices — including taunts that he had a “small dick.” The Ruger SFAR, with its thick barrel, is marketed without subtlety as “Bigger and Stronger Where It Needs to Be.”

— Tim Dickinson in Mass Murder Is a Choice. The Gun Industry Made It

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