PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — GunTV, a shopping channel that has been billed as similar to iTunes, but for guns, will begin broadcasting from a California studio Friday at 1 a.m. Eastern.
The channel will start with programming from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. but plans to expand to a 24-hour lineup by the end of its first year. GunTV also will sell ammunition, firearm accessories and outdoor apparel.
It has not yet been announced what television providers or channels will carry the controversial shopping channel, so it is unclear who will actually be able to tune in. However, the channel also will be broadcast on the GunTV website.
GunTV is filming in a renovated television studio in Thousand Palms, Calif., formerly known as the Palm Springs Film Factory, that was designed for a cooking show or commercials. The channel's founders are Doug Bornstein and Valerie Castle, a couple with professional backgrounds in shopping networks who live in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
“We are very excited to bring our new concept of shopping for firearms and accessories to live television," Castle said in a news release. "Our unique platform allows industry manufacturers to showcase products through our talented and experienced on-air hosts. Viewers will receive in-depth, entertaining product demonstrations, and see the products in action, an important component of the purchasing decision.”
The development of GunTV became public knowledge in November when The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun, which like USA TODAY is owned by Gannett Co. Inc., broke a story revealing that the network was setting up in the Coachella Valley. A few weeks later, two Islamic State-inspired terrorists killed 14 people in San Bernardino, a city only an hour's drive from the Thousand Palms filming location. The nationwide debate over gun control came to focus on the Inland Empire, with national media criticizing the shopping channel as ill-timed.
Soon after, GunTV's launch was delayed. The shopping channel grew quiet, stopping all public statements and social media postings, until the channel's launch was abruptly announced in a news release Thursday morning.
According to the release, GunTV will dedicate three minutes of every hour to firearms safety.
“We understand that the more informed we are as consumers, the better purchasing decisions we make," Castle said in the release. "At GunTV, safety is our number one priority.
GunTV appears to be modeled after existing shopping channels, such as the Home Shopping Network and QVC TV, but will face more stringent restrictions. Unlike the jewelry, commemorative coins or decorative plates sold on other channels, firearms can’t be mailed across state lines or sold to just anyone.
To work within gun laws, GunTV won’t actually sell firearms directly to its viewers. Instead, when a viewer calls GunTV, the network will place an order on behalf of that viewer with Sports South, a Louisiana firearms distributor. Sports South will then ship the weapon to a local gun store, where it can be purchased as normal by the viewer.
In a prior interview, an official from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence said the sales process appears to adhere to the laws that regulate gun sales. However, she still argued that GunTV was trivializing the sale of firearms.
“Buying a gun is a serious decision,” said Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney for the Law Center. “If you are going to buy a gun for your home, it’s not a decision you should be making at three in the morning because you are watching TV.”
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