IT WAS a blunder by Heckler & Koch, a big German gunmaker. On February 15th the firm apologised for a “mistake” after its American subsidiary posted a Valentine’s image showing a handgun surrounded by ammunition arranged in the shape of a heart. The image went out to social media shortly after a deadly school shooting in Florida.
The post was also a reminder that although Europeans often criticise lax firearm-ownership laws across the Atlantic, the region’s firms are increasingly present in America’s market for small arms—defined as revolvers, pistols, rifles and shotguns. Americans buy far more such weapons than any other nationality and their appetites have been growing steadily. This year they are likely to buy 14.5m such firearms, notes Jurgen Brauer of Small Arms Analytics, a consultancy. Europeans have proved deft at grabbing a sizeable portion of all this.