Last Man Standing is often identified as a beacon for conservative TV viewers, who feel that their views are rarely represented in a fair way by Hollywood. The show's star, Mike Baxter (Tim Allen) is a Republican who owns a small business — an outdoor sporting goods store, making gun sales and laws a natural topic for the series. However, in the year that the show was off the air, a number of horrific shootings brought the issue of guns to a boiling point, making it difficult for a family-oriented sitcom to approach.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Kevin Abbott revealed that the issue will soon play a pivotal role in an upcoming episode, though he and the writing staff have not decided to what extent that will be just yet.
"We’re still dealing with that a little bit," he said. "It’s a tough subject. Mike Baxter owns an outdoor store and sells guns there. We certainly have a viewership that embraces that and we want to be responsible at same time. It’s an ongoing discussion."
Producers, actors and writers on the show have made it clear that they are not aiming to come down on either "side" of the political spectrum, but rather to represent viewpoints equally in honest characters. Earlier this year, Allen himself told Fox News that he expected the show to take on guns, saying that Mike Baxter “owns a sporting-goods store that has firearms, so we’re going to have to deal with that somehow.”
Last Man Standing was cancelled by ABC in the spring of 2017. Immediately, its dedicated fanbase cried out for a revival, and one year later, Fox responded. The network saved the series, bringing it back for a seventh season. However, it can hardly be said that the show didn't miss a beat, as the year it spent in sitcom limbo was a big one. The epidemic of mass shootings — particularly the Parkland, Florida School Shooting and the subsequent March For Our Lives campaign — inflamed the nation's gun debate, and retailers played a big part in that.
Huge chains such as Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart pulled assault-style weapons from their shelves following the tragedy, taking a stand that infuriated gun rights enthusiasts. Likewise, many gun owners decided that enough was enough, and many viral videos showed people destroying their semi-automatic rifles like the ones that took so many lives at the Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting last October, to name another.
Last Man Standing airs every Friday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.