Thursday, August 17, 2023

Gun manufacturers target young children with the 'JR-15'

ON HER MSNBC SHOW LAST WEEK, Rachel Maddow did a segment on the marketing of an assault-style rifle made with little kids in mind. It is the JR-15, which stands for Junior 15, a smaller, lighter version of the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, reported The Bulwark. It is made and sold by an Illinois-based company called Wee 1 Tactical (“wee one,” get it?) and advertised with the tagline, “Get ’em One Like Yours.”

Maddow called it “a gun specifically designed to be wielded by babies.” That might not be literally true, but, as Maddow goes on to point out, the JR-15 until recently used logos showing a skull and crossbones for a little boy or a little girl with pacifiers in their mouths. As she parsed it, “Because why should any kid have to wait until they’re done with the teething process before they can start carrying their own assault rifle?” 

While these logos have been removed, the intended demographic for the weapon remains the same. This is clear from the image that appears on a pamphlet for the gun showing a bearded man teaching a little girl, who appears to be about five years old, how to shoot. 

Maddow’s segment prompted an impassioned rebuttal from NewsBusters, a website that says it covers “short-term outrages and long-term trends in liberal media tilt.” In an article titled “Maddow MELTDOWN: Falsely Claims AR-15 for ‘Babies’ Has Hit the Market,” NewsBusters associate editor Nicholas Fondacaro described Maddow’s segment as a “hissy fit” and her delivery as “shrieking.” Worse, it was all over something as innocent and wholesome as modifying a weapon of war for the use of little kids. 

“Imagine you’re a parent with a love for exercising your Second Amendment rights and you want to share your hobbies with your kids and teach them to respect and handle firearms safely,” Fondacaro mused. “Many parents in this situation would start their kid off with a .22LR caliber rifle.” The JR-15, he explained, is “more or less a Ruger 10/22, the ubiquitous semiautomatic .22LR rifle in America, except it’s in the AR-style platform.” 

Moreover, Fondacaro wrote, the JR-15 was designed for “young kids,” not babies or toddlers. “Wee 1 Tactical did use some cartoony skulls and crossbones with pacifiers” in its early marketing, he conceded, but dropped these motifs “in favor of a more serious tone.” And it would not be kids but adults who actually purchased these weapons, he helpfully points out. No toddlers are “going into gun stores, dragging stepstools to the counter, and slapping down their tooth fairy money for a Jr-15,” he assured. “Even three or four toddlers stacked in a trench coat would have a hard time pulling off that caper.”

Fondacaro cited Wee 1’s contention that it is simply helping parents pass on the “great American tradition” of teaching their children to develop “a love for hunting and shooting sports,” as families have been doing “since our nation’s founding.” (In fact, many hunters regard AR-15–style rifles as inferior for hunting and see those who use them as “not hunters but wannabe weekend warriors” susceptible to aggressive marketing.) In sum, Fondacaro clucked, “What Maddow tried to do was vilify that tradition and make it sound like something abnormal and contemptible.”

Yes, what could possibly be considered abnormal about teaching your five-year-old how to fire an assault-style rifle? Why would any parent hesitate to bring weapons like these into their children’s lives? 

Some of these same parents, let’s remember, find it intolerable that a public school teacher might let on to a third-grader that some families have two mommies or two daddies. They think their kids need to be protected from seeing a dude dressed as a woman, or from being exposed to Michelangelo’s “David” in an art history lesson, or even from reading the works of that filth merchant, William Shakespeare. They worry that putting in a bad word for slavery might be too much for even white teenagers to bear.

And yet, these snowflakes turn to ice balls at the firing range, as they introduce their young children to the weapons that may someday be used to kill them.

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