This Teddy Bear Doesn’t Have To Pass Any Toy Safety Regulations Because It’s A Gun

The latest campaign from the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence juxtaposes the safety regulations of kids toys and firearms.

When it comes to toys for children, there are a lot of safety regulations manufacturers must adhere to. And understandably so, given past tragedies caused by things like lead paint, flammable materials, choking hazards, and more. Still, you’d think a cuddly teddy bear might have a few less regulatory hoops to jump through than, say, a handgun, right?


A new gun control PSA campaign from the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV) says that even though guns are inherently the most dangerous consumer product around, they’re not regulated in any significant way, from manufacturing to gun sales to background checks, making it almost as easy to purchase and sell a gun as a teddy bear. Enter Teddy Gun, a not-so cuddly embodiment of this ridiculous situation.

Teddy Gun, created by agency FCB Chicago, follows up the award-winning 2015 campaign “Unforgotten,” an art exhibit representing actual victims of gun violence.

Michael Fassnacht, CEO and president of FCB Chicago, says the campaign isn’t anti-gun, just pro-regulation. “When you learn that the manufacture of teddy bears requires far more health and safety standards than guns require, it’s astounding,” says Fassnacht. “It was important that the symbol for this initiative to break through today’s clutter of content and distraction. Our goal for the Teddy Gun is to make people look twice and compel congress to act. We are not anti-gun at all, we respect people’s rights to have and use guns. But we are in favor of common sense gun laws.”

The creative challenge is to raise awareness of the politically and emotionally charged topic of gun violence without alienating people on either side of the discussion, to somehow convince people who have already made up their mind on the issue, to take a look at it again.

“We created something provocative that will invite people to have rational and intelligent conversations around common-sense gun regulations,” says Fassnacht. “We truly hope that most Americans can find common ground regarding reasonable gun regulations. We DO have it for toys!”

For an organization against gun violence, creating a gun was something that required extreme sensitivity, which led the agency to remove the firing pin so no one could ever fire the Teddy Gun. Fassnacht says, “In the end, the client and all involved knew that the Teddy Gun was a powerful symbol of what ICHV stands for.”


About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.