Ladies can enjoy a pink air rifle

You’ve heard the business angle on America’s sad, sad day in Newtown, Connecticut?  In the wake of the slaughter of 20 children and 8 adults, merchants who have been profiting from the insane explosion of guns in America have been trying to stay out of the spotlight until outrage at this tragedy subsides, as it has after all the previous massacres of innocents in schools, malls and workplaces in recent decades.

One of these merchants is Dick’s Sporting Goods. State authorities are trying to see if there is anything to reports that the gunman, Adam Lanza, may have attempted to purchase a gun from a Dick’s in Danbury, just 12 miles from Newtown.

Dick’s, a huge national chain, is clearly in crisis mode. It announced that it was taking two measures in response to the bloodletting. First, it has halted all sales and displays of guns at its store closest to Newtown. Second, it is temporarily ceasing sales of “modern rifles” nationwide.

It takes just a second for that to sink in. Halting displays at a single store. And “temporarily” ceasing sales of a particular type of weapon often associated with human carnage.

Now, Dick’s is a full-line sporting goods store, so you can also get stuff like camping tents and baseball gloves, which are unlikely to result in mass murder.  But Dick’s likes guns plenty—it’s a huge profit center for the company.

Dick’s divides its products into three categories: Apparel, Footwear, and Hardlines. In 2011, hardlines which include sporting goods, fitness equipment, golf equipment, and “hunting and fishing gear” made up 52 percent of sales. A homey section of the store, called “The Lodge at Dick’s,”

stocks a broad range of high-quality equipment for a variety of outdoor pursuits, from hunting, camping and fishing, to kayaking and paintball.’… we make The Lodge a true destination store by providing on-site access to an array of value-added services, such as rifle-scope mounting, [and] bore sighting…

If you’re not already familiar with Dick’s Sporting Goods, fear not, because the company, which already has 500 stores, is coming to a mall near you! That’s right—all over the country, new locations are opening, with the most recent popping up in places like Fort Worth, Dayton, Spokane, and Jefferson City, Mo.

Anyone who sells guns is taking a carefully calculated risk. In its annual report for 2011, Dick’s puts in the mandatory investor boilerplate on potential risks to its profitability:

We may be subject to various types of litigation and other claims and our insurance may not be sufficient to cover damages related to those claims. …although we do not sell hand guns, assault weapons or automatic firearms, we do sell hunting rifles, semi-automatic hunting rifles and ammunition, which are products that are associated with an increased risk of injury and related lawsuits….We may…incur losses due to lawsuits relating to our performance of background checks on hunting rifle purchasers . Any improper or illegal use by our customers of ammunition or hunting rifles sold by us could have a negative impact on our reputation and business.

Hunting Rifle or Assault Rifle?

Dick’s is hardly alone in this story (we’ll have something to say in coming days about Cerberus, the private equity firm that is rushing to divest itself of the gun manufacturers it controls, including the company that made the rifle used in the slaughter.) Dick’s deserves scrutiny principally because of its size. But it is America that has a love affair with violence and fear—and the money to be made from it.

An official of NICS, the FBI’s gun purchase background check facility, said that on Black Friday 2012, it processed 154,873 checks–the largest number of transactions since launching in 1998, and a twenty percent increase over the year before.

So many gun dealers called NICS on Black Friday that the system went down twice—and ran at a crawl when it was operating. Would-be gun owners were none too happy. As reported by the Lewiston, Maine, Sun Journal, people were upset that they had to wait ten to twenty minutes to get a gun.

Customers at Van Raymond Outfitters in Brewer also had to wait on Black Friday. The store lost half a dozen customers because the system was down or the wait was too long, manager Rick Lozier said Monday.

“Sometimes it would take 10 minutes to get through and sometimes it was 20,” the longtime Brewer store manager said. “It was pretty much all day long. We still had a good day considering the holdups.”

Those who left empty-handed did so “from frustration from waiting,” Lozier said. “Overall, we’re not a patient society.”

Part of the rush, according to gun dealers, was fear that Obama might sign new restrictions on weapons. In towns in Maine, customers were “looking for assault weapons and high-capacity handguns.”

As the Tulsa World reported on “Black Friday” sales (that’s a most unfortunate term, referring of course to  the big sale day after Thanksgiving, not the very black Friday on which all those children and teachers died in Newtown) :

Jackye Hoover of Jenks said she went straight from Thanksgiving dinner to Dick’s Sporting Goods at the Tulsa Hills shopping center to be the first in line for an advertised deal. “I’m here to get an AR-15 for only $799,” Hoover said, describing a semi-automatic assault rifle on sale at the store. “It’s $300 off.” She said the Thanksgiving Day wait didn’t bother her, and she brought her teenage daughter to keep her company during the wait.

It’s interesting to note that Ms. Hoover’s purchase is described in the article as an “assault rifle,” in contrast to the statement in Dick’s annual report that “we do not sell hand guns, assault weapons or automatic firearms, we do sell hunting rifles, semi-automatic hunting rifles and ammunition, which are products that are associated with an increased risk of injury and related lawsuits

So one person’s “semi-automatic hunting rifle” is another person’s “semi-automatic assault rifle.” It’s a state of mind—and perhaps of denial.

A Firearm for the Fair Sex

Dick’s is very conscious of its image as a good citizen. Its annual report has a nice page on “Corporate Responsibility.” Its charitable initiatives include a program to donate sports equipment to youth, and being a corporate sponsor of medical research and treatment of childhood cancers. Of course, these are not strictly altruistic—Dick’s, like most companies, gets a hefty public relations benefit for its very public association with such causes. Meanwhile, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times, Dick’s was one of several companies lauded for its commitment to diversity, with at least 25 percent of its executives being women.

That diversity does not necessarily manifest itself in the maternal instinct. According to the Anderson Independent-Mail in South Carolina,

Manufacturers have also tapped into the female market more…even offering pink air rifles this year at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

…There are many more products for women to choose from…..

The National Sporting Goods Association’s annual sports participation report showed a 51.5 percent increase of women taking up target shooting over the past decade – from 3.34 million in 2001 to 5.06 million in 2011.

It’s the American Way

In an economy heavily bolstered by sales of guns and ammunition (a $4-12 billion industry), everyone has a stake in Dick’s well-being. It is the New York Stock Exchange’s 21st largest retailing company by market capitalization. Though its stock had been sliding in the week before the massacre, shortly before the onslaught Citigroup reaffirmed their “buy” rating for Dick’s. A contractor, GSI Commerce, which handles Dick’s substantial online activities, is owned by eBay.

As Investors Business Daily reported two days before the massacre, “If analysts’ forecasts are on the money, top-performing retailers of all stripes such as sporting goods chain Dick’s Sporting Goods…. should keep up their winning streak this Christmas period, with double-digit fourth-quarter earnings forecast by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.”

Indeed, the day of the assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced a special cash dividend because the company is just bursting with funds.

This additional return of approximately $254 million in cash to our shareholders demonstrates the strength of our balance sheet, the health of our business and a commitment to efficiently deploy our strong cash generation,” said Edward W. Stack, Chairman and CEO.

So who believes Dick’s (or any other gun dealer) is going to stop selling “modern rifles” (for hunting or otherwise) a second longer than it must to survive the current p.r. nightmare?

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31 responses to “Get Your Pink Rifle at Dick’s! America’s Love Affair with Money and Violence”

  1. LP Dictum says:

    Wow! Why didn’t I think of this? “Inconsistencies and anomalies abound when one turns an analytical eye to news of the Newtown school massacre. The public’s general acceptance of the event’s validity and faith in its resolution suggests a deepened credulousness borne from a world where almost all news and information is electronically mediated and controlled. The condition is reinforced through the corporate media’s unwillingness to push hard questions vis-à-vis Connecticut and federal authorities who together bottlenecked information while invoking prior restraint through threats of prosecutorial action against journalists and the broader citizenry seeking to interpret the event on social media.”

  2. tcdurbin says:

    OK, the pink air rifle is the classic “Red Ryder” BB gun. It’s made by Daisy – who only makes airguns, and the thing isn’t powerful enough to break the skin. The pink ones are for girls, and they’ve been on the market for years.

    I’m all for gun control, but that’s a really silly departure point, and it doesn’t help our side at all, because those who know guns will point to an article like this and dismiss everything in it because the author can’t distinguish between a kid’s BB gun and a real firearm.

  3. edwardrynearson says:

    why is it always a lone wolf?

    • Russ says:

      Two different deranged individuals have pushed unrelated people in front of NYC subway trains in recent days. They, too, sadly, were “lone wolves.” They may or may not have been on meds, but the reality is that there are a lot of ill people in this society. I doubt that giving them guns would in any way improve things.

  4. Teace Snyder says:

    Ironically, the meat of this article is in the comments.

    • Russ Baker says:

      Not in this one! lol

    • Teace Snyder says:

      Seriously though, Russ, I don’t get why of all the angles to take regarding this story you chose to focus on a particular corporations response. If I were perusing an infomercial for Dicks, this article would fit right in, but as for the matter of what recently happened in Connecticut, the issue obviously isn’t gun control, it’s mental health, gun responsibility, media response, unreported contributing factors (such as medication), alleged second gunmen, and soon to be state versus federal law if the anti-assault rifle bill Obama’s backing actually passes. The point I was trying to make is that your readers have collectively pointed to the true issues here, and have done so in the comment section largely because of your failure to address them within the article. I think that sucks because I have a tremendous amount of respect for both your journalistic integrity and your insights. I’m not saying this article or the info presented in it isn’t interesting or good in and of itself–it’s hard for you to write anything that isn’t good. Just that by comparison, this doesn’t really seem relevant to the greater issues surrounding this tragedy.

    • KGB says:

      Unfortunately I don’t think ‘guns’ as a broader subject will ever be addressed in an unbiased way on WhoWhatWhy, every article written so far has decidedly strong ‘anti-gun’ message rather than impartially looking at the much broader issues at play – mental health being one (you mention), the particular type of medication these guys seems to be on, the apparent difficulties getting assistance/care for those that need it; true discussion about Governments use of force and so on and so forth. In other words it’s a disappointing ‘discussion’ that’s more akin to repeating State sponsored/issued talking points with a few directed ‘facts’ to push the point. One watches CNN, CBS, MSNBC et-al for that.

    • Russ says:

      Wrong. We’re researching the meds angle as we speak….but you’ve got your mind made up–presumably a gun owner, so you will not be happy unless what we write agrees with your preconceptions. And we’re not in the business of doing that.

      Emotions run high. But we will stick to the facts.

      btw, the term “anti-gun” used as a pejorative is funny from anyone who opposes the needless taking of lives, including by the military. Every rational person, including one who owns a gun, should be “anti-gun.” we’re also “anti-fear” and “anti-anger.”

    • KGB says:

      Oh Russ, Russ, Russ, sigh. **The needless taking of lives is not mutually inclusive of guns** – a man in china killed 20 or so people the other day driving a car into a crowd. He was a registered driver. Ban cars?. Again in china, a chap killed/injured a dozen school kids with a sword. Ban blades? The fact that more people have been deliberately killed with either doesn’t seem to register in this ‘conversation’. Why is that?

      The response to events like this has to be measured and emotionless. And yet, again your reply to a dissenting comment is to ‘bait’ and reveal yet again a fervent opposition to an armed responsible populace.

      Having reported on the middle-east the way WhoWhatWhy have/are, I would have though it obvious why a population should be able to arm themselves lawfully – maybe they would have got the governments they wanted instead of being forced (through the use of arms, not-so-ironically) to accept dictators, totalitarians and/or interfering corporate backed puppets.

      And no, I don’t own a gun or guns. I ‘hate’ violence. Am not a US citizen. But I certainly understand that knee-jerk reactions and *emotionally baiting* a ‘discussion’ or ‘conversation’ is neither. The language being used in all the ‘anti-gun’ articles on WWW is one step short of government backed, corporate sponsored talking-points of CNN, CNBC et-al… I don’t come here for that (as I’ve said in other comments).

      Sandy Hook was a truly tragic event carried out by a very disturbed young man. Disarming a population in response and having the mistaken belief the emergency services can stop events like this happening again is truly laughable. Are the police predictive? Can they fortune tell to be in the right place at the right time to stop events like Sandy Hook happening? Do we want to put cameras everywhere? The police on every corner? How about compulsory stop-and-search bag checks? The TSA at the entracnce/exits to all public establishments?. Would people still think themselves ‘free citizens’ if that were the case? Be careful for what you ask.

  5. LP Dictum says:

    Have just finished “Family of Secrets.” Stellar work. “Pink Rifles at Dick’s” suggests, however, that your internal bias against firearms has caused you to take Sandy Hook at face value. A “lone nut” commits a heinous crime whose outcome conveniently furthers the policy goals of those in power, but this time the lone nut has the courtesy to self-terminate. The mainstream media adopts the official explanation without question and immediately begins broadcasting anti-gun propaganda 24/7. Doesn’t this scenario strike you as familiar? There is a list of questions about Sandy Hook circulating on the net purportedly posted by “Clare Kuehn.” The list itself may be disinformation but some of the questions raise legitimate concerns. For example, according to the official story, 20 of the 28 people killed were small, squirmy children – difficult targets even for professionals. How could the “autistic” Lanza achieve such deadly accuracy so quickly, particularly with a jammed rifle? Oops, wait a minute. Another version put out by officials said that Lanza was found dead carrying only handguns and the rifle was locked in his trunk. If so, who fired the rifle shots? The whole Sandy Hook massacre sounds more like a false-flag operation of which Frank Sturgis or Allen Dulles would have been proud. As you pointed out in “Family of Secrets,” although the Bushes have gone away, the dark forces behind power politics have not. Why are you so accepting of the official version of this story?

  6. -- says:


    (This concerns the topic, but not directly the article.) 

    Would love to see you compile a history of media coverage on this shooting that would elucidate how early coverage (including a possible second shooter, who was definitely arrested; a red van with blown-out windows; a dead father, etc.) quickly homogenized  into the accepted story.

  7. Jfgudk says:

    I came to this site for real forensic journalism. This is anti-freedom propaganda. Adam Lanza was sick, on pharmaceuticals known to cause violence, and his mother was ‘waiting” for the system to help. Yes, she was dumb to leave weapons accessible to him. However, that does not mean that responsible citizens should be punished by losing their rights. Expecially since the overreaction will go way beyond the “assualt weapons” being demonized. This is just what this administration has been wating for, aligns nicely with the UN small arms treaty they queued up to move forward with less than 8 hours after winning  the election.

  8. Gus says:

    Please don’t tell me you are playing the “culture of violence” blame game. Americans found out one thing on December 14, and that is that a young man named Adam Lanza lost any sense of humanity and committed an irrational and heinous crime. The result of this crime is that the lives of those directly affected are changed forever and they must rely on their local support system for comfort and recovery. Beyond shock, this situation has no bearing on the daily lives of the other 300 million Americans. And the very fact that we as a society have elevated this event to the status of priority number one on the national agenda is the reason that prospective killers consider committing such crimes.  

    I wonder how the numerous inhumane actions of history occurred before the advent of video games, violent movies, and access to modern weaponry? To think that we are going to develop a blanket policy that will eliminate these sorts of action shows an anemic perspective of history and a ignorance of human nature. There will always be diluted individuals who commit irrational crimes regardless of gun access or the “purity of society”.

    • Mark12 says:

      Not the same bloodshed with the same impact, without the guns. Sorry. Only a gun owner with astonishing blinders could write such a self-justifying thing.

    • Gus says:

      I admit that I made that post in the heat of passion and understand why you would consider it self-justifying. I in no way meant to belittle the viewpoint of Russ Baker, whom I have tremendous respect for after reading Family Of Secrets. We just seem to disagree on this issue.  

      The main point I was trying to convey was that the problem with society is the way we perceive certain acts as an attack on the whole country. This perspective is indicative of a collectivist mindset in which an attack on a few is the equivalent of an attack on a whole and if we don’t develop a new policy encompossing the whole we are succumbing to evil. This delusional mindset is what was taken advantage of by the elites in evoking a “war on terror”.

      The  diluted idea of having a “war against terror” is the same as the illusion of a “war against drugs” or a “war against violence”; all of wich are unwinnable wars due to existence of humans. History reveals that the State always takes advantage of a collectivist mindset to foster a society of dependency through provision of a false sense of security.

      It might shock you that I don’t own a gun and have no intention of purchasing one. I believe that ideas are more powerful than any weapon and people should start worrying about the war that is taking place in between their ears.

    • KGB says:

      Mark, if you have nothing serious to contribute to this other than Ad-Hominims your time might be better served  flamingbaiting YouTubers.

    • edwardrynearson says:

      i would like to see a serious discussion about the million plus iraqis killed by violent americans and their automatic weapons in what seems to me be to be a slam dunk supreme war crime

  9. Marilyn19505 says:

    Should be titled ” Get Your Dick substitute at the Rifle Shop”

  10. Iinjanaika says:

    “So one person’s “semi-automatic hunting rifle” is another person’s
    “semi-automatic assault rifle.” It’s a state of mind—and perhaps of

    Yes, it is a state of mind. A state called ignorance. To call an AR-15 an assault rifle is to be ignorant of what an assault rifle is. A few seconds on Wikipedia can remedy this. When Dick’s says they do not sell assault rifles, they are correct. You’re not going to find a select-fire rifle capable of fully automatic fire, which is what an assault rifle is, at a sporting goods store.

    • Iaintjanaika says:

       spoken like a true gun-o-phile! i assume YOU know where to get your assault rifle. lol.

    • Iinjanaika says:

      Actually, no, although I might be able to find a seller online. But I don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a rifle that would also be pretty damn expensive to shoot, since it would burn through rounds like there’s no tomorrow. Do you even have any idea how difficult it actually is to obtain an assault rifle? My AR-15 was only about $850, purchased online and picked up at a gun store so they could do the background check. You should go to the range sometime and learn something.

    • KGB says:

      Mark, it’s an important distinction which media bumbling doesn’t help clarify. For the authors of this article to use that as a point of justification is to be misinformed at best, reprehensible at worst.

  11. Carine Clary says:

    Business Insider is reporting that Lanza was on something called Fanapt, which was initially rejected for FDA approval because it seemed to stimulate homicidal & suicidal ideation.  Virtually all these incidences involve heavily medicated perps.  There are lists of these people and their meds on many websites. To summarize:  Crazy + SSRIs + Nutter Mom who leaves guns around = Sandy Hook.  So why isn’t anyone demanding a moratorium on meds to go along with the guns?  I guess the politicians get more campaign contributions from big Pharma than Bushmaster, Inc….

    And on a more personal note I observed how a (dementia patient) relative who lived with me for the year prior to his death became uncharacteristically violent after less a week of taking an “anti-depressant.”  Fortunately, my stoner cousin happened to call the night after the attack, and he told me that liquid vitamin B would flush all the dope out of his system.  It actually worked and we lived peacefully ever after.  When I called the neurologist to tell him what happened, his response was that this was the first time he’d ever heard of this effect, which is absurd, since peer reviewed articles have been published on the subject. 

  12. jimmmmmy says:

    As I’ve said before, this is a symptom of some form of soul sickness.

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