This is most certainly part of the problem. As Salon reports, Bushmaster Firearms (yes, that Bushmaster) has been promoting its AR15- and M16- type rifles by providing a "man card" to its fans.
Proof of Your Manhood – The Man Card ... Do you have what it takes?
Inspired by the overwhelming response to Bushmaster’s “Consider Your Man Card Reissued” sweepstakes, today Bushmaster Firearms announces the latest part in the series; the Man Card online promotion.
To become a card-carrying man, visitors of bushmaster.com will have to prove they’re a man by answering a series of manhood questions. Upon successful completion, they will be issued a temporary Man Card to proudly display to friends and family. The Man Card is valid for one year.
Visitors can also call into question or even revoke the Man Card of friends they feel have betrayed their manhood. The man in question will then have to defend himself, and their Man Card, by answering a series of questions geared towards proving indeed, they are worthy of retaining their card.
Bushmaster invites you to visit www.bushmaster.com/mancard to earn your Man Card and have some fun. If you decide to revoke the Man Card of a friend or two along the way, that is entirely up to you.The man card quiz link is no longer active, but Salon gives a synopsis:
Most of the quiz questions are pretty predictable and harmless, if dumb — Do you eat tofu? Can you change a tire? Have you ever watched figured skating “on purpose”? — but others are more challenging. One question gives you four possible options of how to respond if a car full of the rival team’s fans cuts you off on the way to the championship game. The correct answer, it turns out, is to commit arson: “Skip the game, find the other car in the parking lot, and render it unrecognizable with a conflagration of shoe polish and empty food containers.”Somewhat ironically, it was not the male Newtown mass murderer who owned the Bushmaster he allegedly used to kill his innocent victims. The gun belonged to his mother.
Nonetheless, I find the easy sexism and dumb machismo of this brand extremely troubling. Equating agression, violence and lack of empathy with masculinity, and positioning a military-grade assault weapon as an essential part of that role, is both a reflection — and a reinforcement — of the American gun culture. And while this culture may not specifically cause killers to kill, it gives them the means to do so very efficiently while also providing a fantasy of violent power to the otherwise powerless.
On a side note, I think the Bushmaster company is in the process of changing its web site:
Hopefully, they'll tone down the bullshit. Who am I kidding? I hope their products, and all like them, are eventually prohibited to civilian ownership.