SO MUCH FOR four-slice toasters, teddy bears and pocket calculators as come-ons at your local bank: the latest door prize for depositors at a small bank in southern Illinois is--stick 'em up--a pair of real handguns, suitable for all occasions (including, presumably, the worst-case scenario for a teller). Anybody who buys a $2,500 six-year certificate from the bank gets, instead of future interest, a pair of Colt pistols, retail value said to be $1,153.95. So far, at least, the offer has been a help to business, according to the bank's 23-year-old senior vice president in charge of marketing.
You have to admit this is one heck of a way to invest in America's future, even if customers are on their own for ammunition. No home, presumably, should be without a .357-caliber Python and a .22 Diamondback, each of which can be cleverly hidden in any room as protection against the slightest unfamiliar noise.
The idea, of course, is that the guns are collectables that have doubled in value in the last six years and in another six could have a value equivalent to a total return of 15.5 percent. In addition, says the bank official, there is the historic appeal, since "most of the people still believe in God, guns and guts as what made the U.S. what it is today."
What it is, of course, is one of the world's most armed civilizations, in which handguns are manufactured, promoted and pushed by very big business interests--not for their limited usefulness as sporting equipment but as "protection" against real or imagined villains--and never mind how many accidental deaths get in the way. The mayor of Findlay, Ill., hometown of this enterprising bank, summed it up rather well: "I don't know about giving away guns," she said. "I'm not pro or anti guns--I don't own any myself--but I wouldn't take them away from the hunters. A lot of people would still be alive today if there wasn't a gun handy. As for the business, we certainly need it."
That's about the way the bank sees it, too, with ads that read: "You probably haven't heard much about us, but that's going to change. We mean business--serious business."
If business gets any more serious, perhaps Findlay's first Super-Duper Saver will win a lifetime supply of pocket-size neutron bombs, a three-piece bullet-proof suit and a suburban home in the shape of safe-deposit vault. Bank on it.