GunTV, America’s First 24-Hour Firearm Shopping Channel, Set for 2016

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Guns for sale are displayed in a gun shop in Roseburg, Oregon, on October 3. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

As the fractious debate over American gun laws continues, two people in California are preparing to launch the country’s first all-gun home shopping television channel.

Created by Doug Bornstein and Valerie Castle—both of whom previously worked for home shopping networks—the new channel, named GunTV, is scheduled to launch on January 20, during the gun industry’s annual multi-day SHOT Show in Las Vegas. It will go live via national satellite and cable TV providers and eventually air 24 hours a day.

Neither founder was able to provide comment in time for publication.

GunTV, also known as GTV Live Shopping, will broadcast gun-related programming and sell firearms, ammunition and accessories. "The ease and convenience of purchasing firearms will be as simple as consumers calling a toll-free number and placing their order," GunTV says in a promotional video. The channel will also air safety, training and instructional content every hour, according to its website, as well as commercials from manufacturers.

Here’s how the purchasing process works: The channel will electronically deliver orders to Sports South, one of the largest distributors of sporting goods in the U.S. The distributor will then ship the firearms to a local gun store, where a viewer can pick it up, according to The Desert Sun, a newspaper in Palm Springs, California. To comply with gun regulations, customers likely will have to pass background checks before the federally licensed dealers sell them firearms. Federal law requires background checks at licensed dealers, so consumers can purchase guns without checks online and at firearm shows.

Sports South, which is based in Louisiana, will provide GunTV customers with access to more than 475 product lines and outdoor sporting goods.

The United States has an average of 89 firearms for every 100 residents, according to a promotional video from GunTV.

Initially, the channel will air six hours of daily programming, mostly shopping, starting at 1 a.m., seven nights a week. The founders hope to expand it to a 24/7 lineup during 2016, The Desert Sun reported.

Erich Pratt, director of communications for the Virginia-based Gun Owners of America, says he hadn’t heard about GunTV until he was contacted by Newsweek. But, he says the channel could eventually become the “Amazon of guns and accessories.”

“Because firearms are an item that are greatly treasured,” he says, “I do think that once people find out about it, there would be an interest.”

But not everyone is keen to see a gun shopping channel, especially in light of recent high-profile mass shootings. On Wednesday, two suspects killed 14 people and wounded at least 21 others at a holiday party Wednesday in San Bernardino, California.

Which is in part why Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence—a national center focused on providing legal expertise in support of gun-violence prevention—says 24-hour firearm marketing is dangerous. “Bringing a product in your home that kills 30,000 people a year, many of them children who die when they find guns in the home, should be a well thought out decision,” she says, “not something done on a whim while watching TV at 3 a.m.”

Pratt disagrees. California, he notes, has the country’s strictest gun laws. The Golden State bans most assault weapons, prohibits the sale or transfer of large-capacity ammunition magazines and requires all potential gun buyers—whether at a licensed dealer, online or at a gun show—to pass background checks before purchasing the weapon. Pratt argues that none of California’s tight gun restrictions prevented the two suspects, who later died after a shootout with police, from committing mass murder. “Prohibiting good people from possessing guns,” he maintains, “just does not stop criminals and terrorists from getting guns.”

When asked about the timing of the channel’s launch—as gun violence stories continue to dominate national headlines—he says that law-abiding citizens shouldn’t have their freedoms taken away from them just because some people abuse their rights.

Some people calling for more gun safety measures see the platform as a way to promote background checks in a positive way. Mark Prentice, communications director for Americans for Responsible Solutions—the group co-founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after she was critically wounded in a 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona—says GunTV could be a positive example of how the background checks system operates in the U.S.

“The most important thing is that dangerous people, like felons and domestic abusers, would not be able to purchase a gun through GunTV because they cannot pass a background check,” he says. “Law-abiding people should be able to go and purchase a gun through this emerging platform.”

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System processed 185,345 requests for background checks—a record—this year on November 27, or Black Friday, one of the largest retail sales days in the country.

“This was an approximate five percent increase over the 175,754 [requests] received on Black Friday 2014,” says Stephen Fischer Jr. of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division. The previous high for receipts in one day were the 177,170 received in 2012, just days after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 26 people were killed.

On the same day the record fell, a gunman attacked a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing three people and injuring nine.