In the aftermath of the Orlando shootings, as politicians renewed their call for gun control, the NRA stuck to their usual script: the only solution to bad guys with guns is more good guys with guns. To re-enforce that, the organization appeared to debut a new program called Share the Safety, a program that allows you to give a gun to a person who couldn’t afford one each time you purchase your own weapon. What better way to solve gun violence than to further arm ourselves?
The site wasn’t real, but rather was a brilliant new parody site by the political prankster group The Yes Men hits two targets: the National Rifle Association and the overused “buy one, give one” models of social good businesses like Warby Parker and Toms.
Debuted complete with a fake press conference in Washington, DC, the online store, Share the Safety, claims to be backed by the NRA and gunmaker Smith & Wesson. Starting on July 4, it offers people the opportunity to buy their own gun and, with their purchase, give a gun to “an American in an at-risk neighborhood.”
“You know how important it is to protect your family. But you may not know that some of America’s poorest citizens cannot afford to arm themselves against those who would limit their freedoms,” the site says.
The Yes Men are famous for using semi-believable parody to skewer groups ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Congress to Peabody Coal, and trying to get the media and general public to fall for their stunts.
But their satire always aims to reveal the absurdity of the claims made by their targets. Gun rights defenders say that everyone should be able to have a gun, but the NRA is mainly supported by a white, rural membership base. Do they really want more guns in the hands of people in Chicago or New York? At the same time, the parody reminds us that the impact of gun violence is disproportionately felt by the low-income urban residents, often in minority neighborhoods. The same can be said for the organization’s lobbying for looser gun laws: “Stand your ground” statutes have led to deaths like that of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was killed by an armed neighborhood resident merely for looking suspicious.
The Share the Safety site is elaborate, including a promotional video and a claim that they are also working with Smith & Wesson to also develop a firearm line marketed at “the gays.” Should the NRA’s goals be taken at face value, it seems not too far from a world we would all be living in.