Women, Obama and Jews insulted at NRA convention
"Alexa" is sold on the company's website. (Zombie Industries)
It was meant to be a celebration of American gun culture, with 70,000 guns-and-politics fans in attendance.
But the NRA’s annual convention, which wrapped up in Houston this week was riddled with controversy.
Perhaps the biggest?
The revelation that one vendor in the hall – the notorious Zombie Industries, which supplies targets for gun ranges across America – markets a life-size, well-endowed female target called “The Ex,” that bleeds when shot.
Women’s groups and civil rights advocates were appalled. And social media lit up with fury for obvious reasons: violence against women remains a staggering reality in American life – and around the world.
In the Twitter verse, Jessica Valenti reminded her followers that, “1/3 of US women murdered are killed by their partners.”
Gun owners, too, called out the vendor as well as the NRA. “As a gun owner & supporter of the 2nd Amendment I find @ZombieInd’s “The Ex” egregious. Stop promoting violence against women,” wrote @NoneMorePaige.
Zombie Industries, based in San Diego, has long inspired revulsion – even within the gun business itself. In 2011 America’s Crossroads Gun Shows banned Zombie from appearing at shows, declaring its products “too graphic, offensive and ghoulish.”
Zombie Industries brazenly replied in a blog that these were, in fact, “all the reasons why we think you’ll want one!”
At this week's convention, the company was also forced to remove another bleeding zombie target: “Rocky” – who bears a striking resemblance to U.S. President Barack Obama.
And if insulting women and African Americans were not enough, conservative commentator Glenn Beck went one step further, raising the ire of the Jewish community, depicting New York’s gun-control advocate Michael Bloomberg making a Nazi-like salute.
As the polite version of the saying goes, "You can’t make this stuff up."
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Bill Schiller has held bureau postings for the Star in Johannesburg, Berlin, London and Beijing. He is a NNA and Amnesty International Award winner, and a Harvard Nieman Fellow from the class of '06. Follow him on Twitter @wschiller