Kriss and Tell: Why Gun Brand Went All In With Paula Broadwell as Firearm Model


“It’s belittling her experience with firearms and her experience. She is a West Point grad.”

So went part of a statement to brandchannel by Robert Farago, publisher of the popular gun blog The Truth About Guns. Farago was speaking of a new New York Times profile of Paula Broadwell — disgraced biographer and former mistress of former CIA Director David Petraeus —that referred to the author as “a model for a machine gun manufacturer.” Farago further called ther Times assessment “condescending.”

Watch the promotional video for Kriss, the “machine gun manufacturer” in question, featuring Broadwell and it’s hard not to agree. Then again, Broadwell’s own LinkedIn account lists her as a “demonstrator/model for Kriss.” Broadwell’s speaker bio for the “The PPL” — a media space attached to the Sept. 2012 Democratic National Convention — notes that she is “a sponsored 1/2 Ironman Triathlete and a female model/demonstrator for KRISS (.45 caliber machine gun manufacturer).” It’s a detail that her Penguin publishing bio, however, lacks.

The Broadwell scandal comes as the Kriss brand is having its best year ever. After appearing in The Avengers, the Kriss Vector took other starring roles in the hands of athletic women like Kate Beckinsale in 2012 hits Total Recall and in Resident Evil: Retribution. (Milla Jovovich even shot a promotional video shooting a Kriss, not unlike Broadwell’s promo.)

Now, Kriss is getting even more name recognition thanks to its attachment to the author who helped bring down, in the NYT’s words, “the nation’s top spy.”[more]

It is a common practice for gun manufacturers to invite gun gurus, those familiar with firearms and press and gun critics (yes, they exist), on shooting junkets to sample and promote their products.

“It is a little unusual though,” says Farago about Broadwell’s appearance in the Kriss video. In most firearm manufacturers promotional videos, Farago says, “You have people involved in shooting, either training or competing. It’s very rare to have somebody outside that very little world come and test out your product.” Farago — a gun expert and gun news publisher — says he had no idea who Broadwell was until the scandal. “He name really doesn’t carry any weight amongst the gun community.”

That said, he adds, her clout, “access” and ties to top-level military personnel as the official biographer of Petraeus would have attracted the brand. “Kriss has been trying to get military contracts for its weapons systems,” he commented. “They haven’t had much luck.” Farago surmises that, in this regard, Kriss “probably saw her as being helpful.”

Those in the know will note that the guns shown in the Kriss video are the full-auto, short-barrel versions — in layman’s terms, “machine guns.” The Kriss Vector is sold to civilians, but only in a long-barrel, semi-automatic version. A short-barrel, semi-auto model, while technically legal for civilians, falls under the National Firearms Act and requires registration. In short, this video is not meant to sell guns to Second Amendment-loving American citizens — it’s a B2B pitch.

As the video narration points out, Kriss is looking to be more than a manufacturer of machine gun rifles. Kriss states that its technology is also perfectly suited for “the weaponization of light aircraft and helicopters” and that “the Kriss system is ideal for UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] platforms.” And, indeed, the expertise Broadwell has brought to the video is not at all about shooting, but about the military gains inherent in reduced weights for both “troopers” and heavy and aircraft vehicles (like UAVs).

It’s bears mentioning that promoting the interests of arms makers within the halls of the Pentagon is a tried and true career move for a generation of military retirees. A Nov. 10 Army Times report noted that “The number of UAV attacks in Afghanistan has increased every year under the Obama administration” “255 strikes in 2009, 278 in 2010, 294 in 2011 and 333 through Oct. 31.”

The report comes during a time when UAVs have become an indispensable part of operations by the CIA, the agency formerly run by the very man Broadwell wrote a biography about (and slept with). The Army Times report also noted that the 350 UAV strikes in Pakistan and Yemen “are coordinated by the CIA, not the Air Force.” It had been well documented that both before and after his CIA role, David Petraeus was a big fan of UAV “drone” use, so much in fact that some worried that his leadership of the CIA might lead to “militarisation of intelligence operations.”

Like everything else with the Broadwell-Petraeus affair, a lot more exists below the surface that we may never know. One thing’s for sure, even if Broadwell fancied herself a gun “model,” it’s more likely that gunmaker Kriss saw her as a shapely leg up in the lucrative world of military contracting.

(Kriss did not respond to requests for comment but we will update accordingly.)


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