Militarization of Police and Civilians: Blackhawk’s “Own It!” Advertisement

I wrote yesterday about my reconnection with gun advertising since signing up for cable TV again after a year’s hiatus. This second installment of my random thoughts on advertising is based on an ad I saw while watching “Guns & Ammo TV” on the Sportsman’s Channel: Blackhawk’s “Own It” ad:

What first caught my eye was the jump cut from a SWAT officer to a plain clothes woman loading a magazine on a range to guys in camo doing a military crawl under wire. And then the jump cut from the same woman practicing drawing from concealment on a range to looking down the rifle barrel of a guy in military gear. And then a jump cut from police officers shooting handguns on a range to a woman learning how to shoot from behind a barrier.

The gender dimension aside (interesting though that it), each jump cut serves to blur the lines between military, police, and civilians. According to Blackhawk!, “In 1990 a Navy SEAL was navigating a minefield when his pack failed. As his gear tumbled to the ground, he vowed that if he got out of there alive he would make gear the right way.” But not just for Navy SEAL’s. As this ad makes clear: “ANYONE CAN BUY OUR GEAR.”

The blurring of the lines between military and police is something that Radley Balko has chronicled in his book The Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces. But the paramilitary ethic also infuses the culture of everyday armed self-defense for citizens.

Although all things “tactical” are routinely made fun of by certain gun people, the entire category of tactical weapons and gear is a huge seller for manufacturers (like Blackhawk!) and did not exist before the end of the Vietnam War as far as I can tell from my analysis of gun advertising.


  1. […] When I first started studying gun culture, I too was struck by the seeming militarization of gun culture. I was particularly taken by the militarization of the police, as documented in Radley Balko’s book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop. I noted the blurring of the lines between military, police, and civilians in Blackhawk’s “Own It” ad. […]


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