Illinois Fights the Marketing of Semi-Automatic Assault-Style Rifles to Kids Because Apparently That’s a Thing That Is Happening?!

Gun Rights
In a scene from A Christmas Story, a young boy (Raphie) marvels at a small rifle.

There is an actual company that somehow exists called Wee1 that markets real (not toy) guns meant for children and their itty bitty hands. Until recently, the company displayed logos featuring a skull and crossbones with green and pink pacifiers for boys and girls. They’ve gotten rid of the pacifiers in some of their marketing, but their strategy remains the same. They tout their weapon as being “smaller, safer, lighter” than a typical semi-automatic assault rifle-style gun. It is called the “JR-15” named after the AR-15, the military-style gun used in numerous mass shootings. But, you know, junior. Like for babies.

Reporting by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow showed that the company’s website deliberately targets kids, as it proudly features a homepage photo of an elementary-aged-looking child shooting a gun, with her proud dad helping her. Wee1 is proud that the JR-15 is only two pounds and is specifically designed for tinier fingers and hands. Sure they say there are extra safety precautions like an extra knob somewhere … but who cares?

This is very clearly a disgusting move by a disgusting company that can only happen in a country that is disgustingly obsessed with guns. We can look at the statistics around guns and gun violence in this country and see they are BY FAR the worst in the world. Here are just a few facts to swallow, provided by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

  • -43,000 Americans die from gun violence per year.
  • -There are around 393 million guns in circulation in the United States,
  • -Americans are 25 times more likely to die by firearm than their counterparts in other high-income nations.
  • -Over 1 million Americans have been shot in the past decade in this country.

These are beyond disturbing to me and every rational person. But the irrational has prevailed in too many ways. Conservatives/gun zealots seemingly do not care about any of the aforementioned facts. Their die-hard commitment to guns knows no bounds. So much so that they see no problem in making and marketing semi-automatic rifles to kids who couldn’t even pick up my 18-pound dog, and whom I certainly wouldn’t trust with my dog’s safety if they could.

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I do not care about hunting. I do not care about sports. I do not care if people find personal value in a bizarre family bonding experience that requires a semi-automatic weapon made specifically for toddlers. Not every facet of a population has to have their wishes prioritized above public safety. For too long, a lot of people have been scared to criticize those who love guns; it’s just their culture, some will say. There are even people who may not love guns but feel like they need them to be protected. But so much of all of this is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Kids are not smart enough to control a dangerous weapon. They are not skilled enough to be trusted with it, no matter how many times mommy or daddy shows them the ropes. A number of states do not have age restrictions on their open carry laws, meaning it’s perfectly legal for a toddler to bring their own assault rifle into public spaces, and we’re all just supposed to trust that they understand that danger?

It is a sign of the craziness within our country that this would even be a thought, much less a real news story. One thing that is not talked about enough in my view, is the amount of suicides that are caused by firearms. And the number of accidents that lead to major bodily harm or death. We know that murder is a huge problem, but what about these incidents too? One bad move, one bad decision, can result in a lifetime of pain. What do the supporters of this marketing scheme and this children’s gun say to these concerns? What illogical world do they live in? The time for coddling these people has long been over. Too many lives are being lost because we are afraid to offend certain segments of society.

But thank God for Illinois! The Democratic governor and Democratic legislature have sought to pass legislation that bans gun marketing to kids. Thanks to the out-of-control U.S. Supreme Court, they cannot ban the actual gun. But they are at least trying to reign in the advertising, which I think is a great step. Republicans and gun lobbyists do not support these measures. They have an irrational love of guns that supersedes, well, almost anything, it appears. Our country changed dramatically when more facts about the harms of smoking came about; the marketing of cigarettes greatly evolved and those changes remain today. How can we not do the same thing with guns? These are weapons that have a more devastating and immediate impact. We can blame organizations like the NRA but we must blame people as well. They hold up the fabric of a gun culture in America that claims more than 116 lives each day and we can’t continue like this.

(featured image: MGM)

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