On Wednesday, gun control advocates sharply condemned an Illinois-based company for recently unveiling the JR-15, a long rifle modeled after the AR-15 but marketed for children.
“The marketing of assault rifles to children…can only increase the threat of firearm death and injury to children.”
Although it weighs less than 2.5 pounds and is 20% smaller than the standard version, the JR-15 “works like mom and dad’s gun”, WEE1 Tactical noted in a report. The weapon “functions like a modern sporting rifle”, but its “lightweight and sturdy polymer construction and ergonomics are kid-friendly”.
WEE1 Tactical debuted the JR-15 earlier this month at an annual show sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, based in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman with an AR-15 murdered 26 people in Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
“The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s insensitivity to promoting a children’s version of the same type of assault rifle that was used in a horrific mass shooting of 20 first graders and six educators in our shared community does not is the latest proof that the organization, and the arms manufacturers it represents, will do anything to continue to make a profit,” Po Murray, president of the Newtown Action Alliance, said Wednesday.
Other reviews of the new rifle have taken aim at the gunmaker, which also sells “swag” featuring cartoon skulls with baby pacifiers, one with bows and pigtails, and another with a mohawk.
As Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center (VPC), put it, “At first glance, this looks like a farcical joke. At second glance, it’s just grotesque.
“The fact that a gun maker has embraced the imagery of dead children to promote youth gun ownership is a surreal illustration of just how detached this industry is from the deaths and injuries that result from its products. , especially among young people,” he added.
Sugarmann is the author of VPC’s 2016 report titled ‘Start Them Young’: How the Gun Industry and Gun Lobby Are Targeting Your Children. He compared the gun lobby’s efforts targeting young people to those of Big Tobacco:
The tragic frequency of shootings involving children and teenagers is well documented and unfortunately has become part of our daily lives. Yet few realize that the gun industry and the organizations that represent their interests, including the National Rifle Association, have been promoting gun use among American children, from the school age, one of their top marketing priorities. In doing so, the gun industry is following a lead once trodden by the tobacco industry in its efforts to entice children to smoke cigarettes.
The report concludes that “while the gun industry and the gun lobby constantly strive to frame this marketing effort in terms of tradition and family, the real impetus lies in profit and political power. More tragically, the effects of this campaign are too often measured in terms of unnecessary deaths and crippling injuries.”
In line with these marketing tactics, WEE1 Tactical said in its release that “the JR-15 is the first in a line of shooting platforms that will safely help adults introduce children to shooting sports.”
Kathleen Sances, president and CEO of One Aim Illinois, expressed concern about what lies ahead as adults buy the gun for kids.
“The marketing of assault rifles to children by an Illinois company not only shames our state,” she said, “but can only increase the threat of gun death and injury. fire for children here and throughout the country”.