Marketing in the Gun Sales Industry

The Aurora, Co., tragedy of two weeks ago is still fresh in our minds. With it, came the all too familiar yet unsettling news that with every major shooting tragedy comes an increase in gun sales immediately following the incident. It was true for Virginia Tech and Columbine, just as it was true this time.

And it’s not just in the area immediately surrounding the incident. It’s a national phenomenon. And it’s been explained in two ways.

  1. People want to protect themselves from similar tragedies.
  2. People are afraid the tragedy will trigger new gun laws and restrictions to they want to get while the gettin’s good.

Regardless of why it happens, the gun manufacturers and sellers know it happens. Which leads me to a strange series of question:

What happens when what’s good for your business is not aligned with the greater good?

For gun companies, how do you deal with the fact that a national tragedy is good for business?

For McDonald’s, how do you deal with the fact that your products contribute to the obesity crisis in America?

Hardcore free market economists would argue that these companies are just filling a demand. But are they not also responsible for creating that demand in the first place? And aren’t they encouraged to grow their business?

If I’m a gun salesman I want guns in the news. That strikes me as a conflict of interest that deals with matters of life and death. Not a situation I want to be in as a marketer.