News & Politics

GunTV: New Shop at Home Television Network Will Offer All Guns, All the Time

Because what we desperately need is easier access to more guns.

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Some people read headlines about America’s terrifying culture of gun violence and see a public health crisis, while other people read those same headlines and see a business opportunity and dollar signs. It seems safe to assume which category the people behind GunTV, a new 24-hour QVC-style home shopping network, fall into. The channel, which the New York Times reports will launch on January 20, uses the promotional tagline, “Live Shopping. Fully Loaded.”

Valerie Castle and Doug Bornstein, the team behind the network and well-known figures in the home-shopping world, call its parent company the "Social Responsibility Network.” A video on the GunTV website states the channel will make “the ease and convenience of purchasing simple as consumers calling a toll-free number and placing their order.” Viewers of the network will be able to buy “a vast array of firearms and related consumer goods.”

As the New York Times points out, the GunTV studio is located in Palm Springs, California, about 50 miles from San Bernardino, where a recent mass shooting left 14 dead and 21 injured.

If you think this sounds like a terrible idea—a cynical cash grab that, against the backdrop of current gun-related tragedies, seems likely to imperil yet more lives—you are not alone. Laura Cutilleta, an attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, expressed concern about the network to local Palm Springs outlet the Desert Sun.

“My gut reaction is this is the last thing we need,” said Cutilleta. “When you look at the number of gun deaths in this country every day, the idea that somebody’s ‘brilliant marketing scheme’ is to get more guns into the hands of more people is just a little bit outrageous.”

Here’s how it will work. When a GunTV viewer sees a firearm or related object they want to purchase, they dial up the station’s 1-800 number. From there, in keeping with federal law, the network will pass the order along to Sports South, which the Desert Sun identifies as a Louisiana-based gun distributor. The weapon will then be sent to a store close to the buyer’s home. A federal background check will be conducted before the gun sale is final. 

For weapons enthusiasts who decide to tune in, GunTV’s website says it will offer “segments as diversified as women’s concealed weapons apparel; generational grandfather, father son; big game hunting; and camping, just to name a few.” Aside from guns, ammo and the like, the network says it will air PSAs and other media that emphasize gun safety. The company claims that by “using the same approach used by alcohol companies—‘drink responsibly’—the GunTV shopping channel will continuously present a social responsibility message that will resonate with Americans.”

Though the goal is ultimately to be on-air all the time, the network will initially only broadcast between 1am and 7am. Perhaps thinking of popular jokes about drunken QVC late-night shopping, Cutilleta suggested the time slot might not be ideal for weapons selling.

“Buying a gun is a serious decision,” she said. “If you are going to buy a gun for your home, it’s not a decision you should be making at three in the morning because you are watching TV.”

But network co-creator Castle, who also spoke to the Desert Sun, sees the channel as a way to make gun buying even more convenient.

"People are super busy,” Castle said, “and if they can tune into our content at a time when they are not in the throes of their busy day and really sit and pay attention to how to safely use the product and store it, as well as get the back story of the are going to get way more information about that product."

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

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