What If We Pushed Body Armor Like The NRA Pushes Guns?

Testing a bulletproof vest in Washington, D.C. September 1923. This work is from the National Photo Company collection at the Library of Congress.

Testing a bulletproof vest in Washington, D.C. September 1923.
This work is from the National Photo Company collection at the Library of Congress.

I’ve marveled before at the multiple strategies the NRA uses to sell more guns. They make money after ever mass shooting. They have created an environment where the answer to any question about guns is more guns. It’s ridiculous, but clever. It makes sense that Donald Trump is happy to be part of this selling scheme.

I’ve been talking to people at several groups lately about what strategies can be used to make changes in how we tackle the gun problem in our society. I’m looking at multiple ways from legal to financial to cultural. I’ve wanted to know what worked, what didn’t and why.

As part of the exercise I looked at what the NRA did to get where they are today and wondered how a group could do the same, only with a different product, one that could prevent deaths.

What if that group had the same willingness the NRA has shown to use every technique in their bag of tricks to sell more products–no matter the consequences?

Illustration Credit: Spocko

1) Provide easy availability at multiple price points

First they would make bullet proof clothing and helmets as easy to get and as cheap to buy as a handgun. There would be no restrictions on people to buy them or laws to block its sale. Restrictions that make sense (like not selling to felons or bigger criminal charges for people who use them in committing a crime) would be dismissed as unnecessary and a hindrance. “People have a right to feel safe, in their home and out in public, their past criminal history shouldn’t infringe on their right to feel safe!”

2) Pay state lawmakers to fix the laws in body armor’s favor on a state by state basis
Currently in the United States it is legal to purchase and possess body armor, apart from a few exceptions: From Safe Guard Armor

  • In Connecticut, body armor can only be purchased face-to-face, and cannot be purchased online, over the phone, or by mail;
  • In New York, the ban of body armor for private citizens is being debated;
  • In some states such as Kentucky, committing a crime while wearing or even possessing body armor is a crime in and of itself;
  • In Louisiana, it is illegal to wear body armor on school property.

The legislative arm of the group would write bills like ALEC did for the NRA, repealing any laws that put restrictions on the purchase of body armor and open up new markets for body armor. If lawmakers didn’t support the bills, they would not get endorsements and donations would be withheld. This would require money, but buying influence at the state level is surprisingly cheap. Also the bills can be ‘bi-partisan,’ everyone is for safety.

3) Make the owning of body armor part of a higher law, maybe even a right

Like how the NRA uses the 2nd Amendment laws to sell more guns, the BAA might use the preamble of the constitution as their foundational argument. After all, it is before the 2nd Amendment.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The BAA hires a couple of historians to write some books making the case for protecting citizens with tools other than guns. The important thing is to “start a conversation” even if you have to jump through some flaming hoops with blindfolds to make the case.

“What part of insure domestic Tranquility don’t people understand? Guy with a gun shoots at you, are you going to feel more tranquil with a bullet proof vest or without one? The Framers used the phrase “provide for the common defense.” If they wanted to provide for the common offensive they would have said so and named it in the document.”

4) Bring religion into the picture

Getting Jesus on board is easy, what with the whole “turn the other cheek” story Matthew 5:38-39. Also, always tie it to sales. “It’s easier to turn the other cheek when wearing this GM-IIIA glass visor mask and ballistic helmet!”

5) No liability for body armor manufacturers, ever.

Laws would be passed so the manufacturers of the clothing were immune from all product liability cases, ever, even if they are defective. Liability lawsuits cost money, it’s cheaper to pay some lawmakers to grant immunity. The manufacturers will show their gratitude to the BAA leaders.

6) Sell body armor into fashion markets for men, women and children

The BAA would enlist the United States Fashion Industry Association to boost sales. Seed money would be given to the industry to make more lightweight, fashionable kevlar clothing for everyday wear.

They would enlist fashion designers to make them look cool. Since styles change every year for adults, people will buy new body armor in multiple styles depending on their mood and activity.

Get celebrities on board!

From left, designer of #BabyYeezy BulletProofVest, Celebrity man, celebrity woman one, mother of child model (North West), celebrity woman two. Credit: Photo Reuters

Growing children will need new sizes every year. Parents will need to buy new Back To School body armor. This all increases revenue for manufacturers. Here’s North West the son of Kanye West wearing a bulletproof vest designed by his father.

Kim Kardashian’s actual tweet. Look at my little cutie!!! #DaddysMuse #BabyYeezy Credit: Brian Prahl Splash News

The BAA would also accept kickbacks (I mean donations) from the clothing industry for every single item of clothing sold, just like they do with the gun makers.

7) Get the government to buy body armor for all employees

Government unions are powerful. Figuring out how to get money from them gives lobbyists power. Since some government workers are in danger and need body armor, new contracts would demand allgovernment workers get free body armor. Office workers would be required to wear them as part of their job to save lives during office shootings. The body armor would have to meet government specifications. A cost plus model would be implemented for the resellers in the government market. Defense manufactures know how to sell to government, it’s a surefire money maker.

8) Get the government to pay for school children’s body armor

School board members would be lobbied by BAA to send new requirements to state and federal governments for all children to wear body armor while in school. The BAA would provide the school board with statistics for why it’s necessary. If the government hesitates, the BAA would ask private donors to provide body armor.

What about schools with no sponsors? Schools where parents can’t afford body armor? To put more pressure on the government to provide body armor, start pointing out racial differences. Who needs the body armor more? Rich white suburban kids or “urban” kids?

REMINDER: A part of all profits from government sales goes to BAA for government lobbying, advertising and PR campaigns to sell more body armor and helmets.

9) Redefine how people talk about the body armor– direct this to journalists

Start with a popular phrase like bullet proof. Redefine it and use it as a club if it is used generically. A group that redefines a term starts owning it.

Journalists will be constantly corrected via multiple channels: tweets, Facebook, emails and phone calls. Even good old letters to the editors will be enlisted.

“Dear Sirs/Ladies: In your recent article “Bullet Proof Vest Saves Child’s Life” you referred to the body armor the child was wearing as “bullet proof.” That is incorrect. Technically the body armor in question should have properly been called bulletresistant. This is just sloppy journalism.
In the future do your homework before throwing out generalizations about body armor.

Complaints in on-line forums would go into more detailed attacks, “Why should I listen to any “journalists” who don’t know the difference between Kevlar 29 and Kevlar Correctional? He probably still thinks we use metal plates instead of UHMWPE for ballistic panels!” The point is to let the journalists know they will hear from you whenever they write about body armor. Good or bad. Just like they are now with the weapon used in Orlando

10) Change the culture of wearing body armor by appealing to the desired self image of users

One of the most important roles of the Body Armor Association would be to change the image of body armor wearing people. This is part of a broader cultural change. The use of tv and movies is essential.

The NRA and Hollywood has spent decades pushing the idea that masculinity is tied up with using a gun. But there are ways for people to defend themselves that don’t require guns. Hollywood embraces the gun when used for payback, revenge and instant “justice.” but they can also show smart, cool people using protection from guns without having to use them. They can also show the unglamorous side of using guns like in Unforgiven)

11) Make wearing body armor a duty

Wearing concealed body armor would be pushed as a duty that people accepted as part of being American and protecting one’s family. Since nothing can be done about guns, this is the best step that can be taken.

Fathers would be especially targeted for this tactic. The BAA would would run ads and send letters to fathers appealing to their desire to be protectors.

“We know you would take a bullet for your child, but you can’t stand over her every day. That’s why it’s a man’s duty to protect their child when they aren’t there.
If your child is at a school and was NOT wearing her vest, you failed her! Bullet resistant body armor and helmets must be worn everyday!”

12) Shame people who didn’t wear body armor

After every shooting death and injury, instead of calls for more guns, there would be a call for more bulletproof vests and helmets. People who own bulletproof vest and helmets come forward and shame the victims for failure to wear them. Just like gun owners do to unarmed people during mass shootings.

“If I was there, wearing my vest, I would have been fine. It’s their own fault they didn’t wear body armor, hopefully this will wake people up and they will start wearing body armor everywhere.”

They will explain that madmen seek out body armor free zones.

13) Make wearing body armor routine
Parents would join groups that encouraged them and their children to wear the bullet proof clothing in case of a home invasion. “Brush your teeth, put on your PJs and vest and daddy will come and read you a story.”

Every morning they would dress up their children in kevlar vests and fashionable bulletproof backpacks like the video up top.

14) Set one group of customers against another for more sales

If sales start flagging, up the ante to get old customers to add more gear or more expensive gear. For example, in states that have started allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons, parents will need to get more than just vests for the children, since their heads are exposed during class.

If the parents won’t “think of the children” with constant stories of how there is nothing we can do about guns, the school board will be lobbied for more funds to pay for this body armor coverage gap.

Feeling protected?

The whole idea of a group pushing body armor like the NRA pushes guns might seem ridiculous. “People would never do all that.” But the gun lobby has taken these kind of actions and more. They have changed laws, customs, definitions, attitudes and have created an entire culture. It’s pretty damn impressive and can be disheartening when it appears nothing will ever change.

But… the gun lobby and their supporters are not a force of nature. They do not have supernatural powers.

They are just men and women with greed and a plan. They have systematically gone about shaping the views, and laws of America this way.

If things don’t change is it because they care more?

I don’t think so.

There are more of us than them and we can and will work the plans to make changes to reduce gun violence in America. I’ve seen and heard the despair from people on what seems to be an insurmountable problem, but it’s not.

Now I’m seeing the righteous anger in people who will fight with us for change. I welcome them, their brains, passion and talents.

It will take time and there is no silver … you know …

but if there was, it could be stopped by this:



Cross posted at Crooks and Liars and Hullabaloo

How NRA will profit from 9th Circuit ruling on concealed guns in public

Carrying concealed weapons in public is not a 2nd Amendment right, says 9th Circuit ruling

..a federal appeals court said Thursday people do not have a right to carry concealed weapons in public under the 2nd Amendment.

An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said law enforcement officials can require applicants for a concealed weapons permit to show they are in immediate danger or have another good reason for a permit beyond self-defense.  — AP Mercury News 

Of course some conceal carrying commenters from around the country are demanding to know, “What part of SHALL NOT INFRINGE don’t these people understand?!” They will follow that with how happy they are they don’t live in California. (I’m happy you don’t live here too Shootie McGlockface)

 The people who are really happy with this development? The gun makers and the NRA. They are probably shooting the corks off of American sparkling wine tonight. This is good news for them.

The NRA will purposely misinterpreted this court’s decision and combine it with the possibility of Hillary Clinton as President. It will become this quarter’s hot PR campaign to sell more guns.

“Hillary Clinton and the activist judges in California are trying to take away . . . → Read More: How NRA will profit from 9th Circuit ruling on concealed guns in public

It’s not unusual to feel about elections

As a half Vulcan half human male from another planet it’s hard for me to totally understand both the happiness and frustration that yesterdays’ election results were received by my friends on the left in America. My friends Susie, Angie, David and Raf  have all made great points about feeling happy or happy/sad with both frustration and pride.

I suppose it’s not unusual for people to feel this way.

I just want to acknowledge what has been accomplished in America. With that I give you a black man and a white woman dancing.

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Who is Michal Spocko and why should we listen to him?

Lately I’ve been writing some big companies to explain why it would be wise to change their policies on guns to more closely align with their brand image. I explain that a failure to do so will cost them money. I used all the various appeals to authority, but I neglected to provide the people with an easy way to let them know who I am. I had this in my “About” page.

About me. A brain in a box.

Contact me at spockosemail at gmail . com

I didn’t even say “I’m just looking for a piece of the action.” like I do on my twitter page @spockosbrain, Or  “I went to Star Fleet Academy”, like I do on Facebook.  But I should have probably told them a bit about my past and the last time I made some suggestions to CEOs, CFOs, COOs and CMOs of RW radio stations and TV.

People often use visual short cuts to help them make decisions about people. They also use signifiers of education, years of experience and associations as a quick way to decide who to listen to on a topic or whom to ignore. Where did they go to school? What is their degree . . . → Read More: Who is Michal Spocko and why should we listen to him?

Fun Video by @SketchShe for #RedNoseDay

I’m a huge fan of Shae-Lee @ShaeLeeShack, Lana @LanaKington and Madison @madisonLloyd from the comedy group SketchShe.

They made this fun video last year for #RedNoseDay It’s them lipsyncing to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” across Luna Park in Sydney.

Red Nose Day is about helping lift children out of poverty. This video helped lift me out of gloominess. Watch it, it’s really fun.

Got my rednose @walgreens then watched @SketchShe fun 2015 #RedNoseDay video https://t.co/9hyY9Ssf7Q @WalgreensNews https://t.co/SSVPGiNabh

— Spocko (@spockosbrain) May 26, 2016

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. rings opening bell for RedNoseDay Nasdaq: WBA

This year the sponsors had some fun. This is Skip Bourdo, Walgreens Corporate Operations Vice President [Nasdaq: WBA] and Christy Gibb of the Comic Relief Board of Trustees ringing the Opening Bell at Nasdaq. I wonder if this years’ Red Nose Day partners from Mars Chocolate North America brought any snacks?

I think it is great when companies do this, it’s one way of showing that they care about their customers and their communities–while having fun doing it.

I often focus on serious issues, but I believe that most people in companies are decent and want to do the right thing. . . . → Read More: Fun Video by @SketchShe for #RedNoseDay

5-year-old shoots, kills self because dad’s afraid of a Werewolf?

What the what?

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W. Virginians can now carry concealed guns with no permit or training

Starting today, May 24, 2016, legislation goes into effect that will allow most West Virginia residents to carry concealed handguns without a permit.

They also aren’t required to have any training. At all. As in zero. Nadda. Zilch.

That means no safety training with a gun is required. No live-fire training with a gun is required. They aren’t even required to watch a 5 minute video on gun safety.

This is insane.

West Virginia is now one of eight states where no permits are required: Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi and Vermont.

No permits, no training, the cheapest guns in the USA! What could possibly go wrong? Credit: Taber Andrew Bain Creative Commons license 2.0

I watched some of the video of West Virginians legislators talking about this decision and it boggles my mind this passed.Friends who carry concealed guns take the required training very, very seriously. One has explained how dangerous it is for people from states with weak or no training requirements to be allowed reciprocity carry with his state.

The people in the conceal carry world hammer on the need for training. I was watching a live fire conceal carry training video today. A guy who regularly carries a gun and spends hours at the firing . . . → Read More: W. Virginians can now carry concealed guns with no permit or training

Superhero Movie Themes: Collateral damage is people!

Before the movie Captain America: Civil War came out, Charlie Jane Anders wrote about the themes that the big superhero movies are  using this year: the use or abuse of power and state control. 

“I don’t expect either Batman v. Superman or Civil War to offer an explicit critique of our collective fantasies about power and invulnerability—fantasies that all our political leaders, to some extent, have been pandering to for years.

But she does hope that, “along the way, countless moviegoers might be forced to think for a moment about what kind of responsibility goes along with the use of power.”

It worked, I did think about the responsibilities that come with power. And it wasn’t just because, Mr. “With-great-power-comes-great-responsibility” makes an appearance half way into the movie. I also though about the way the writers of Civil War used human “collateral damage” as the main reason the government needed control over super-powered people.

io9 Writer Germain Lussier, explains, “..the government wanting to control the Avengers, is based on collateral damage: a smaller number of people who mistakenly die to save billions of others.”  He also notes that collateral damage is  “the go-to conflict in superhero movies (see also Batman v Superman).” (I will also note that collateral property damage . . . → Read More: Superhero Movie Themes: Collateral damage is people!

Liberty U lawyers: Your guns are going to cost you money

Liberty University Chapel with recent gun accident headlines

Liberty University to allow handguns in dorm rooms

Next fall, Liberty University students with concealed handgun permits from the state can get permission from the school to keep their guns in safes in their dorm rooms

—Jesse Pounds, Daily Progress)

Liberty has been increasing the places that guns can be carried concealed on campus since 2011. The residents’ hall is one of the last places they were forbidden. Officials have downplayed the number of students who might have guns in the dorm, as well as the risk.

They might also be downplaying their financial liability if someone is injured in a gun accident while in a Liberty dorm or on campus.

Lately I’ve been reading stories of gun accidents. Every day I get about three that trigger my “accidental shooting” alert. I know there are more, but these are the ones that make the news. Check out the last few days: 3-year-old, 3-year-old, 2-year-old, 3-year-old, 3-year-old. 16-year-old 77-year-old.  In the newsbiz, three is a trend. It looks like we are on the way to a trend of toddlers killing more Americans than terrorists.

After I read these I wonder, “Could this have been prevented?” . . . → Read More: Liberty U lawyers: Your guns are going to cost you money

Qapla! We’ve disrupted the RW radio advertising model

My friends at Media Matters For America put up this video pointing out that Rush Limbaugh is no longer the goose that laid the golden egg. In fact, he hasn’t been for years. It’s news now since he is in contract negotiations.  It’s too bad some media outlet won’t dig deeper into what happened to Rush and the AM broadcast radio business.  Right wing radio is no longer a safe place for most consumer advertising. How this happened and what it means might be a good story–if they cared to write it.

They could examine the impact of the revenue decline, but also the reasons behind it.

I don’t expect anyone in the media to “follow the money.” since the money raised for political candidates goes into media buys. But if one did, they might find that lowered revenue expectations and dark money are now keeping Rush afloat.

The political press will talk about how powerful Rush still is and how he and his brethren (cistern?) helped bring us the extreme right wing GOP presidential candidates. They can ignore the lost advertisers, since that is not their metric for power.

The business press might write about the advertisers that . . . → Read More: Qapla! We’ve disrupted the RW radio advertising model