“Start Them Young” – NRA “Junior Members”

Since 1981, and until recently, the National Rifle Association has published in print or online NRA InSights magazine for its Junior Members65 under the age of 15 (although the online content is available to anyone).66

The industry’s focus on youth as its financial savior is made clear in an ad for Marlin’s XT rimfire rifle that appeared in the online version of the magazine. The headline of the ad reads, “FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR SPORT, IT’S THE MOST POWERFUL FIREARM ON EARTH.” With a picture of a father and son together, the ad promises that the gun can “light a fire for the shooting sports or rekindle your own.” Clicking on the ad leads the reader to the company’s website and its full product line. Another online ad, for the Kel-Tec PMR-30 pistol, links to the company’s website, where the first three images that greet the reader are adult shooters holding assault rifles.67

NRA Insights 12-13 Future of Our Sport Ad Page 17
NRA InSights online edition

NRA Insights 12-13 Kel Tec Blend In Ad P
NRA InSights online edition

In January 2014, the NRA changed the title of NRA InSights to NRA Family InSights and switched to an online-only format for the magazine with accompanying website. In an editorial announcing the switch, the magazine promised, “In addition to the fun and informative content designed just for Junior members, we’ll be including articles, photos, reviews and news for everyone in your family — parents, grandparents, and other family members.”

In its “Industry Spotlight,” the site features a profile of NRA Board Member Ronnie Barrett, inventor of the 50 caliber sniper rifle. Fifty caliber sniper rifles, used by U.S. troops around the world, can bring down commercial aircraft on takeoff and landing, pierce armor plating, and are accurate to more than a mile. They are banned in the state of California and the District of Columbia, but elsewhere they are as easy to purchase as a hunting rifle under federal law. The promotional profile finishes with, “To read more about Ronnie Barrett and Barrett Firearms, go to www.barrett.net.” By clicking on the link, the reader is taken to Barrett’s website which features solely assault rifles and 50 caliber sniper rifles.68

Under “Kids,” visitors are presented with two subsections: “Under 8” and “8 and Up.” Both include a section titled “Guns.”69

A review of the Thompson/Center HotShot rifle in the “Under 8” section states:

It’s important to make a distinction here. With the HotShot, we’re not talking about a slightly reduced-size rifle for teens who are not quite ready for a full-size gun. No, we’re talking about a tiny gun intended for the very youngest shooters — the ultimate first gun.

“We’re targeting the six- to 12-year-old range and feel that with the inclusion of the one-inch spacer in the box, there will be a longer period that the child can use the rifle, potentially out to 15 years old,” explains…[Craig Cushman, director of marketing for Thompson/Center].

That’s important. With the number of hunters declining, it’s crucial to get kids introduced to the sport as early as possible.

The HotShot means that even the youngest shooters now have a gun sized just for them.70

Also included in the website’s “Under 8” section are “Awesome Apps,” which include for $2.99 the NRA Gun Guide app. Text promoting the app asks:

Do you like the idea of being able to call up the specs of multiple firearms on a whim? Looking to win the next debate about calibers and models at the range? If so the “NRA Gun Guide” app is exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

The “NRA Gun Guide” is searchable by gun type, action type, manufacturer, price range and caliber/gauge, making it easy to find out vital info about the rifle in your local gun store or that pistol your buddy is trying to get you to buy at an inflated price.

With an easy-to-follow design, the “NRA Gun Guide” is suitable for all levels of interest in firearms or experience with mobile apps. And, as new content is regularly added, it can only get better.71

When opened, the app promises “Hundreds of Guns Inside!” The “Semi-Auto Handguns ” category of the app contains a wide range of pistols from major manufacturers (Beretta, Colt’s Manufacturing, Glock, Heckler & Koch, Kel-Tec, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, Sturm, Ruger & Company, and others) including numerous high-capacity firearms as well as guns recommended for concealed carry. The “Semi-Auto Rifles” category of the app is dominated by military-style assault rifles — AR-15s and others, including 50 caliber sniper rifles. Assault rifle manufacturers included in the category include Barrett, Beretta, Bushmaster, Colt’s Manufacturing Co., DPMS, FNH-USA, Heckler & Koch, Rock River Arms, and others.

NRA Gun Guide App
NRA Gun Guide App

An article titled “My First .22 Pistol” offers reassurance to those wanting to introduce children to guns: “Fortunately for you, there are many people — neighbors, coaches, competitors, sales staff — who want to encourage youth shooters and turn them into lifelong firearms enthusiasts and Second Amendment advocates.” The article notes that a young person’s first pistol may come from brothers or sisters, or a “hand-me-down from someone you meet at the shooting range.”72 73

The NRA has a wide range of additional programs focused on youth, some of which are named for their gun industry funders, such as the Brownells/NRA National Youth Shooting Sports Ambassador Program, Brownells/NRA Day, and the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program. (In addition, the NRA has launched a concerted online effort with gun industry support to reach out to Millennials.)

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