We’ve gone from a culture that for the better part of two-hundred years, children played with toy guns and adolescents and grown women were encouraged to know how to safely use a firearm in order to protect themselves and their loved ones — to a culture in which merely making a crayon drawing of a gun, brandishing a toy soap bubble gun, or handling a small twig as a gun can get a child expelled from school sometimes taken away by local law enforcement authorities.
Recently, an Ohio middle school student was suspended for ten days for simply “liking” a photograph of a non-lethal Airsoft practice pistol on Instagram. So, American school administrators are expanding their oversight of students’ behavior beyond the classroom to punish them for their thought crimes. School administrators at a Minnesota high school wanted to prohibit a photograph of the school’s trap shooting team from appearing in the school’s yearbook because the team members had posed proudly in the group photo with their shotguns and photos of any firearms in a school publication violated their policy. The school administrators backed down and reversed their decision once they realized their initial decision was being met with some resistance.
Beyond the classroom, even bringing a firearms-related product to the greater consumer market has its challenges. Have an idea for a safe firearms training product? Want to crowdfund it? Well, don’t waste your time with Kickstarter. Various tomes on sexual liberation, sex toys, the impending doom of global warming, and American fascism, yes. Firearms and firearms-related products? Not on their site, thank you very much.
For several months, I’ve been working with a technology innovation company in Southern California and with an acquaintance who is an expert on firearms, the gun industry and is a firearms trainer to bring to market a safe pistol training system that will benefit those new to firearms, as well as, more experienced gun owners. It’s called the interactive Pistol Training System and is currently seeking crowdfunding on Indiegogo which does permit the funding of firearms-related products.
The system will include a training pistol that uses multiple sensors, uses no ammunition, will have user-programmable recoil and will work with a smartphone and tablet app to provide the user a series of drills, which they can record and email to friends or instructors and that gives the user guidance, prompts and warnings if they are handling the training pistol carelessly.
“One of the reasons we designed the iPTS training system in the way that we did,” according Jakob Kishon, the founder of Teksilon and inventor of the iPTS, “is that we wanted to come up with a much safer way for people to learn and to practice their skills to make them safer, more responsible gun owners. The most common way current gun owners practice their skills is through dry-fire using a real firearm. Unfortunately, with dry-fire there still can be a risk of an accidental discharge if a pistol’s magazine hasn’t been fully unloaded or if the shooter fails to check and clear the chamber of any remnant round of ammunition. With the iPTS system, there’s never a chance of that happening because the system doesn’t use ammunition at all.”
In any crowdfunding effort, it’s important to evangelize the product to its intended target market and to build a following of interested and enthusiastic supporters on social media. We’ve been doing that on various sites including Facebook. Unfortunately, Facebook has an advertising policy that prohibits the promotion of any product that in their opinion will encourage their subscribers to purchase firearms and ammunition — legal products that Americans have a legal right to sell, to purchase and to own — and has recently been rejecting our submissions to “boost” (advertise in Facebook parlance) our posts.
The official Facebook ad rejection notice reads:
Your ad wasn’t approved because it doesn’t follow our Advertising Policies. Your ad promotes the sale of ammunition, firearms, Paintball guns, BB guns, or other weapons, including knives, daggers, swords, bows, arrows, knuckle dusters, and nunchucks. Advertising for the sale of weapons or leading to destinations where the business primarily focuses on the sale of weapons is not allowed.
Of course, leave aside the notion that an electronic and wireless device that uses no ammunition encourages the sale of ammunition. Also ignore whether violent crimes in America – terrorist attacks, home invasions, store hold-ups, accounts of rape, murder and assault — that are often featured or played out on Facebook, or even strident anti-gun policies and regulations promoted by various governmental bodies or anti-gun advocates and politicians discussed and debated on Facebook, may do much more to incentivize Americans to purchase firearms than any promotional post for a safe firearms training system.
It is clear, despite explanations to the contrary, the site’s management team may incorrectly believe Teksilon is developing a weapon system that is as dangerous as “knives, daggers, swords, arrows, knuckle dusters, and nunchucks”. Note that Facebook equates legal firearms, the legal sale of firearms, and apparently a legal and non-lethal firearms training product with “nunchucks” which are illegal in many states of the Union.
It should be noted, as well, that many gun manufacturers maintain pages and accounts on Facebook and actively display their wares and that the traffic to those pages certainly bolsters Facebook’s overall revenue model. This form of promotion is acceptable. Promoting a training pistol that is not a firearm, uses no ammunition, and is no different from a laser tag pistol and is in fact, safer than a child’s water pistol, however, runs afoul of the site’s advertising standards.
“One of the other driving reasons behind the development of the interactive Pistol Training System,” Kishon has said, “is that we saw a need, especially for women, to be prepared and confident in handling a real firearm should they ever be confronted with a situation where their lives and the lives of those they love may be threatened. We adamantly believe that developing a training system to achieve that confidence and responsible gun handling ability is a good thing to do. We would have thought that those who manage prominent social media sites would likewise want to do something to help diminish the numbers of needless victims of violent crime. Women and others should understand that a safe gun handling training system is being developed for them so they can confidently defend themselves rather than be made victims.”
My colleagues and I will continue to promote the interactive Pistol Training System and bring it to market because we believe in its positive benefits for anyone who wants to learn how to safely handle a firearm if they should ever be put in situation where they have to defend themselves or their families. We have no illusions that we can change the gun phobic culture we’re all immersed in today. We just want to offer a product that can help save lives even if that’s an uphill battle.
Brian Watt is president of Launch Directors, LLC and an occasional writer on politics and the culture. The interactive Pistol Training System is currently available on Indiegogo for funding. More information on the iPTS is available at interactivepistol.com.