- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 7, 2016

Gun shop owners in California’s Coachella Valley are feeling cautiously optimistic about the coming launch of a firearms-exclusive home shopping channel being produced in their own backyard.

Like other channels of the home shopping ilk, GunTV is set to feature daily segments on firearms that include live sales pitches, in-depth explanations and demonstrations. But because guns cannot be shipped to a buyer’s home directly, any sold through the channel, the brainchild of a pair of veterans of home shopping networks, will have to be mailed to a federally licensed dealer, often a gun shop, where the final purchases and background checks can be processed.

Unknown is whether GunTV’s planned Jan. 20 launch, which initially will run as a six-hour segment each day beginning at 1 a.m., will stimulate a new market for firearms sales or chip into business at gun stores.

Torrey Harris’ store, Condor Gun Shop in Desert Hot Springs, California, is about 15 miles from the studio in Thousand Palms where GunTV will film its segments. But she isn’t concerned about losing customers who may opt to watch the channel.

“In-person is the way that 99 percent of people pick their firearms,” Ms. Harris said. “It might look good on TV and it might be great for your friend, but it might not be good for you. It’s still going to be something most people will decide in a shop.”

In fact, the TV channel could stimulate sales in gun shops where buyers have their firearms shipped, Ms. Torrey said. Because firearms bought through the channel will still have to be mailed to federal firearms licensees like her shop, Ms. Torrey said, buyers might be tempted to purchase accessories or other items from the store during their visits.

Once the site launches, products ordered through the channel will be supplied by Louisiana-based firearms distributor Sports South and shipped to its network of federal firearms licensees, according to GunTV’s website.

For another Coachella Valley gun store, the television channel’s launch already means more work.

Second Amendment Sports in nearby Palm Desert is contracting with GunTV to receive the firearms featured in each segment and to transport them to and from the studio, said general manager Benjamin Moran. The shop already hosted a production crew from GunTV at its indoor gun range, where the crew taped some test segments of firearms in use.

“I thought it was a cool idea, but it’s got to be done right,” Mr. Moran said. “It’s not like selling curtains and whatever they may have been doing before.”

GunTV creators Doug Bornstein and Valerie Castle have worked for and with other home shopping networks. The channel’s tentative plans include expanding to a 24/7, round-the-clock format within a year, according to GunTV’s website. A spokeswoman for the channel declined to make the founders available for an interview, but Ms. Castle has outlined the goals of the venture in previous interviews.

She told The Desert Sun that she envisioned GunTV as a way for gun companies to advertise their products while giving viewers in-depth overviews of the items for sale.

“People are super busy, and if they can tune into our content at a time when they are not in the throes of their busy day, and really sit and pay attention to how to safely use the product and store it, as well as get the backstory of the product you are going to get way more information about that product,” Ms. Castle told The Desert Sun. “Our business philosophy is filling the need, not creating one.”

The channel’s format also will include hourly public service announcements focused on education and safety training, according to GunTV’s website.

With the TV channel shipping guns across the country, gun shop owner Timothy Lewis was unsure how frequently the venture would stir up business for individual federal firearms licensees that receive the shipments. Mr. Lewis said his store, Tim’s Gun Shop in Thousand Palms, California, partners with firearms wholesaler Davidson’s to process purchases made through the website Gun Genie in a similar manner to that of GunTV’s model. But he said he fulfills only about a half-dozen orders a year through online sales.

“There is not a big advantage to buying online or through a mail order,” Mr. Lewis said, noting that buyers still have to pay the same transfer fees and taxes. “I am not sure how that’s going to work out.”

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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