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Start 'Em Young

Recruitment of Kids to the Gun Culture


The shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado�the latest and deadliest in a tragic series of school shootings�once again focuses public attention on the efforts of the National Rifle Association and America's gun industry to create a youth gun culture.

Expressing concern that they have already lost a generation, and reacting to a marked decrease in gun ownership nationwide, the NRA and gun manufacturers have targeted their new market: America's youth. The motivation for the firearms industry and the NRA to create a generation of pro-gun kids is two fold: to guarantee both future customers for the industry and political foot soldiers for the gun lobby.

Left unstated is the fact that, if one accepts the youth gun culture as envisioned by the NRA and the gun industry, then there is no way to predict or curtail incidents like the student massacres in Jonesboro, Springfield, and now Littleton.

Complicating the situation is the patchwork nature of the gun laws regulating firearms possession by juveniles. Federal law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing handguns from a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL). Federal law also prohibits handgun possession by anyone under the age of 18. However, federal law does not address handgun possession by those between the ages of 18 and 21.

Federal law also prohibits juveniles under the age of 18 from purchasing rifles and shotguns from FFLs. However, possession of shotguns and rifles by juveniles is regulated solely at the state level. In many states it is legal for juveniles to possess both shotguns and rifles, although other states regulate or prohibit possession of long guns.

This report offers examples of the ongoing efforts by the NRA, the firearms industry, and other members of America's gun lobby to create a youth gun culture.

Go to next section: Section One: "An Old-Fashioned Wrestling Match for the Hearts and Minds of Our Children"

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