Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Gun manufacturer WEEI Tactical releases JR-15 for children 'Operates just like Mom and Dad's gun'

Between August and December 2021, there were 136 instances of gunfire on school grounds, the highest rate in a 5-month period since the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety began tracking it in 2013. And 70% of school shooters, many of whom have easy home access to weapons, are under the age of 18, reported Fast Company.

Given this backdrop of ever-increasing gun violence, and especially by young perpetrators, the release of a new rifle directly marketed to kids has astonished even gun-reform experts who have followed the industry’s aggressive targeting of children for years. They say this new firearm, overtly advertised as a kids’ version of the AR-15—the style of rifle used in 11 of the 12 most high-profile mass shootings, including Sandy Hook and Las Vegas—is the most brazen example of such targeted firearms marketing they’ve ever seen. The move is part of a trend by an unstable gun industry in a volatile market to target new potential consumers, but it’s also motivated by a rise of political extremism.

Last month, the JR-15, or Junior 15, debuted at the SHOT Show, billed as the nation’s largest annual trade show for the sport shooting, hunting, and outdoor industry, according to Fast Company. The event is organized by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a firearms industry trade association. The rifle is manufactured by WEE1 Tactical, an offshoot of Schmid Tool and Engineering, which has sold AR-15 components for 30 years. A November press release from WEE1 specifically notes the JR-15’s appeal to children: “Our vision is to develop a line of shooting platforms that will safely help adults introduce children to the shooting sports,” it reads. To do that, it’s built a gun whose “ergonomics are geared towards children”: it’s lighter than an adult version, at 2.2 pounds, 20% smaller, and with a patented safety mechanism, not standard on AR-15s, which needs to be pulled out “with some force” and rotated before it can fire. Slight tweaks aside, the company boasts that it “operates just like Mom and Dad’s gun.”

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