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Reeher Quoted in Washington Post Article on Historical Advertisements for the AR-15

March 29, 2023

The Washington Post

Grant Reeher

Grant Reeher

The Colt AR-15 hit the market in 1964 and in the ensuing decades, would become a powerful symbol for whoever invoked it, from gun-control advocates decrying it as a preferred tool for mass killers to gun owners who championed it as the pinnacle of Second Amendment rights.

Through it all, the gun also became a point of emphasis for gun companies that turned to tactical weapons as an emerging and lucrative market.

An examination of the ads used to sell the AR-15, from the 1960s until today, reveals how the gun industry followed social and cultural changes as it sought to broaden the appeal of an unusually polarizing consumer product.

As public concerns about crime mounted in the 1980s and 1990s, AR-15 marketers started to adjust their depiction of what was on the receiving end of the barrel. “People, rather than animals, were the target,” says Grant Reeher, professor of political science. “That allows it to be sold more as a self-defense weapon, particularly inside the home.”

Read more in the Washington Post article, “Varmints, soldiers and looming threats: See the ads used to sell the AR-15.”

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