The Gun Industry's Next Big Thing Is Neither Big Nor New

It’s finally here. The gun industry has produced a gun which is the size of a credit card and will fit into your pocket just as snugly as a ring with a couple of keys. The gun, known as the Lifecard pistol, is now available for $400, holds 4 rounds of delightfully-lethal 22LR ammunition and weighs right around half a pound. The company which makes this little baby is located in North Carolina, and on their website they claim to ’design, develop, manufacture and market innovative American-made firearms,” which I guess puts them right up there with what every other gun maker claims to do.

Actually, the gun won’t be in retail stores for another couple of weeks so I can’t yet try one out. But if the gun industry believes that smaller means better, this little pony takes the cake. Which reminds me, Colt made a small pistol known as the Pony back in the 1990s. It was 380 caliber, was about twice as big as this Lifecard gun, and was a dressed-down version of a very popular Colt pocket pistol, the Mustang, which first appeared in the 1980s but was nothing more than a modernized version of a little, hammerless pistol designed by John Browning which first appeared in 1908.

If anyone believes that gun makers have only recently discovered the market for small, concealable guns, as my grandmother used to say, I got news for you, they’ve been around a long time. In fact, another little pistol designed by John Browning which was manufactured by FN in Belgium came out of the Herstal factory in 1905. The little guy was redesigned somewhat in 1908 and redone again in the 920s, basically to keep it from being copied by other manufacturers who all saw a market for this small gun. And this gun, which shoots a 25-caliber round, is about the same size as the Lifecard pistol but weighs a tad more because it’s made out of real steel, not the lightweight alloys that are used today.

There’s a whole movement out there in Gun-nut Nation now known as Gun Culture 2.0, and what it seems to be is an effort to promote the idea that we have now entered a new period in the history of American firearms with the transition away from owning guns for hunting and sport to owning guns for self-defense. The guy who allegedly came up with this childish nonsense is a television host, Michael Bane, who has a show on the Outdoor Channel featuring various videos on hunting, shooting, the usual stuff, but also what is referred to as ‘instructional’ segments on how to protect yourself with a pocket gun. If you want a good laugh, take a look at this video which shows a self-defense instructor moving into a room and putting three shots into the torso and head of a street ‘thug.’ The ‘thug’ is actually a stationery piece of wood with a man-size human target. This is so far away from the reality of what actually happens in a violent confrontation that I’m astonished if anyone out there could actually believe that this video even remotely reflects a situation in which someone would be defending themselves with a gun.

When I was a kid we used to go to Coney Island and shoot 22-caliber, pump-action Winchester rifles at floating ducks. If we knocked over a duck, we got a prize. It was a lot of fun and in the old days nobody seemed to care that a bunch of 10-year old kids were shooting real guns. So now what has happened is that a generation raised on video games wants to be able to play those video games with real guns.

Concealable handguns don’t represent anything new or different for the gun industry, and anyone who thinks they do is self-delusional beyond any repair. What has changed is what changes all the time, namely, the dynamics of the marketplace which affects how we advertise and sell everything, even guns.