Tag Archives: gun

Comfort Gun: A Hot Water Bottle That Packs Heat

Comfort Bottle

Comfort Gun by Francis North, images via Fast.Co

Spotted this gem of a design on Co.Design this morning, adding support to my theory that UK designers/critics are just more comfortable than USers using guns and gun-forms to provoke critical thought.

The Comfort Gun is a hot water bottle that effectively puns on the ritual of sleeping with a pistol beneath one’s pillow. I know people who actually do this. And I have observed that gun possession generally has a strong talismanic aspect– some gun owners are afforded great psychological safety from just knowing that their Colt/Glock/Beretta is close at hand.

But what I love about this design is the way that it flipped this ritual into the space of the cozy and banal practice of sleeping with a hot water bottle. Instead of the sense of preparedness, intrigue, and danger that I associate with the gun-beneath-the-pillow, Comfort Gun makes me think of Grannies in flanel nightgowns and warm glasses of milk. And then my brain jumbles all these impressions together until I have burly gangsters in flannel nightgowns and cozy Grannies holding smoking guns.

It does this, in part, through the color palette certainly (though there are no shortage of fully operational pink firearms) but also the small quarter-inch edge around the pistol-shape. This was probably a result of the vacum-forming process but serves as the main cue indicating a non-operational gun. In my mind, that quarter-inch rim acts like the frame of a painting, removing the form of the thing from the use of the thing. Very interesting.

Kudos to designer Francis North. More information on this design and designer here.

sleeping gun

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Un-Selling The Gun: Anti-Firearms Advertising

An anti-gun advertisement Arkadi Gerney helped to create featuring Omar Samaha, whose sister Reema was killed by Seung-Hui Cho in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.

Last week on The New Yorker‘s website, gun policy activist Arkadi Gerney wrote about a deeply personal experience with firearms that lead him to his pro-gun-control career. As someone currently researching in the stories told by firearms advertising, I am also interested to learn about the techniques Gerney used to try and sway people in the opposite direction, to “un-sell” guns in the interest of gun control. Gerney talks about campaigns that worked and didn’t work, saying:

All these efforts depended on survivors and family members telling their stories. Internal public-opinion research we conducted showed that the scale of gun violence made the numbers hard to comprehend. It was important, we determined, to put human faces on the problem. People listen when victims talk to them.

It’s a way of making the abstract concrete. Humans are famously terrible at understanding the full meaning of numbers or complex statistical analysis. In many ways, the American gun control debate is a debate about who controls the gun narrative— the meanings and associations we embed into these objects. As Gerney writes:

The gun issue is emotionally charged—and ripe for emotional appeals. It’s easy to make data-driven arguments for stronger gun laws built on statistical evidence; but that levelheaded approach has never been enough.

Second Amendment advocates know this, too; they’ve developed a case with its own emotional weight, on which the core issue is not guns but freedom. It’s about liberty fought and died for two hundred and thirty years ago, and paid for with blood in fields in foreign lands ever since. Advocates for stronger gun laws would be unwise to diminish the deeply felt sense of history, culture, and liberty that for so many years has motivated millions to send thirty dollars a year to the N.R.A., call a member of Congress, hold a sign at a rally, or run for office.

Gerney goes on to say that “it’s the stories of the people whose lives are changed that can help to permanently change the debate, and thus make our country safer.”

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