Gunmakers Urge That Children
as Young as Four Years Old Get "A .22 For Christmas," New VPC Report Reveals
gun industry has unleashed a new wave of smaller, lighter versions of
adult firearms and is marketing them as youth models for use by children
as young as four years old, according to a 21-page study released today
by the Violence Policy Center (VPC). The study,
"A .22 For Christmas"�How the Gun Industry Designs and Markets Firearms
for Children and Youth, reveals how the gun industry�working hand-in-hand
with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun industry trade group
the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)�is targeting children to
ensure its fiscal and political future. As Handguns magazine stated
this summer regarding children and guns: "they are our salvation in the
fight for liberty and the preservation of the shooting sports."
"The gun industry
promises that a gun in a child's hand is a short-cut to responsibility
and maturity. In fact, the only guarantee is one of increased risk of
death and injury," states Marty Langley, VPC policy analyst and study
author. "The firearms industry and gun lobby are attempting to secure
their own survival by endangering that of our children."
In spite of recent
reports of short-term spikes in gun sales following the September 11 terrorist
attacks, gun ownership overall has been steadily declining for several
decades. As a spokesman for handgun manufacturer Glock lamented in 1996,
"grandpa or dad isn't taking the kid out into the field to teach him how
to shoot anymore."
"A .22 for Christmas"
details more than 40 youth firearms from 20 manufacturers and reveals
gun lobby efforts to entice children through the promotion of such activities
as "practical" or "combat" shooting, where participants navigate a run-and-gun,
self-defense course using a wide range of weapons and "Cowboy Action"
shooting, where participants dress up and take part in "wild west" scenarios.
It also reveals how the gun lobby explains that smaller, low-caliber handguns
can be used to fit the small hands of children. And while the gun industry
promises that such training virtually guarantees good citizenship, the
exact opposite may be true. In 1998, 11-year-old Andrew Golden�who had
been taught combat shooting by his father�and 13-year-old Mitchell Johnson
ambushed their classmates at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas,
killing four students and a teacher while wounding 10 others.
The study reveals
how gunmakers openly acknowledge their desire to cultivate an expanded
youth market, even though to purchase a firearm from a federally licensed
gun dealer the buyer must be 21 years old for a handgun, and 18 years
old for a rifle or shotgun. Weapons can be purchased for children by adults,
however, with limited federal age restrictions. In the study, the VPC
recommends that federal law be changed so that possession restrictions
match those for sales.
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Tuesday, December 18, 2001
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x105