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Lawful Gun Ads in Major Cities Aren’t Fueling Violent Crime

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently published an op-ed that argued ads from the firearms industry have no place in the City of Brotherly Love’s subway system. 

Max Weisman, a communications staffer for a Democratic Philadelphia city councilmember, claims the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a firearms trade association, doesn’t acknowledge that homemade so-called “ghost gun” kits are just as responsible for crime involving guns. However, there’s little evidence supporting the claim “ghost guns” are the top weapons choice for criminals.  

He took great issue with their “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” campaign, which helps firearms retailers identify and stop illegal “straw purchases.” What's the harm in that? Absolutely nothing. For a gun safety advocate, he apparently doesn’t want “straw purchases” being intercepted by retailers. 

Weisman misleads readers by claiming, “This ad, paid for by the Firearm Industry Trade Association, while factually correct, implies that illegal gun sales are the biggest factor contributing to the gun violence crisis in Philadelphia. The ad says nothing about legal gun owners or homemade, unregistered firearms. The lobby, by tying gun safety to the sale of firearms, is subconsciously pushing gun sales. It ignores the danger of firearms themselves.” 

“Advertising dollars are powerful and should instead be spent on advocacy campaigns in support of responsible gun laws, the promotion of programs that distribute gun violence prevention or intervention resources, recommendations for supportive spaces for those processing the trauma of gun violence, and much more,” he continued. “These messages are applicable to a wide audience, including legal gun owners. But they should not be paid for by the gun lobby. Advertisements on public transit should not subliminally advocate for the purchase of firearms.”

Much to Mr. Weisman’s dismay, a federal appeals court in 2018 struck down the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) policy “that forbids advertising regarding issues of public debate on SEPTA vehicles and properties.” That ruling also applies to organizations like NSSF. 

DA Larry Krasner, Not Pro-Gun Laws, to Blame for Surging Crime in Philly

Despite having a $208 million “anti-violence” budget, Philadelphia is experiencing historic levels of crime. 

As of August, over 300 Philadelphians died in homicide attacks thus far in 2022 while 1,400 individuals have been shot. One local criminal law practice deemed Philadelphia gun control laws as “especially strict.” 

Concealed carry permits, unsurprisingly, are up in Philly because the city can’t get a grip on crime. Naturally, residents want to take up safety for themselves. That’s perfectly justified. 

“In Philadelphia over the past two years, as all around the country, the pace of legal gun sales surged, roughly doubling during the pandemic years. The number of firearm licenses issued in the city jumped to more than 52,000 in 2021, from around 7,400 in 2020,” the New York Times acknowledged.

Unsurprisingly, Philly Mayor Jim Kenney– a Democrat– blames Pennsylvania’s gun preemption laws, which forbid localities from enacting gun control policies, for making it “backwards.” Instead, Kenney should look closer to home—not Harrisburg. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s policies are squarely to blame for surging crime. 

“We’re not gonna get gun control in Pennsylvania. This is a backward state whose Legislature for the most part doesn’t care about the health and welfare of its citizens,” Kenney said in a recent interview.

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler countered Kenney and responded, “Pennsylvania is already home to some of the strictest background checks for firearm purchases in the country, including further checks on private gun sales that are NOT required by the federal government,” Cutler’s spokesperson wrote. “Our laws work to protect all citizens and respect Constitutional rights. What the Mayor needs is a District Attorney willing to enforce those laws.”

Surging crime isn’t the fault of responsible gun owners; it’s the fault of criminals who are let out early by the city’s soft-on-crime DA, who downplayed rising crime rates back in December, declaring, “We don’t have a crisis of crime.”

Criminalizing Speech Has Dire Consequences on True Gun Safety Measures

California just criminalized lawful advertising speech used by firearms companies and aligned Second Amendment and hunting organizations. It’s already having a negative impact in the Golden State.

Several gun control groups are petitioning the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban advertising used by firearms manufacturers by suggesting their practices are dangerous, unfair, and deceptive. 

“The FTC is failing consumers, failing our democracy and failing the millions of Americans who have lost their lives or their loved ones to gun violence,” noted the petition filed by Brady, the Giffords Law Center, March For Our Lives and the FACT Coalition. “The FTC’s inaction has also harmed countless more Americans who must live with the scars, trauma and emotional and economic damage that America’s gun violence epidemic, fomented by the gun industry for profit, has caused . … The FTC can and must change this.”


The firearms industry works tirelessly to promote safe and responsible gun use, unlike Brady, Giffords, and March for Our Lives. Efforts to thwart the NSSF’s effective “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” campaign is an indictment of the gun control lobby’s unseriousness to tackle surging gun crime. 

Ads and lawful gun owners aren’t the problem; criminals and their enablers are.  



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