Civil Liberties

Media 'Discovers' .22-Caliber Rifles Marketed to Kids and Thinks This Is New

Anybody ever heard of Davy Crockett? Or the Boy Scouts? Or the '50s?


A tragedy struck a Kentucky family on Tuesday, when a 5-year-old boy accidentally killed his 2-year-old sister with a .22-caliber rifle. The family apparently didn't realize the gun was loaded and their mother had stepped outside, leaving them briefly unattended.

The gun belonged to the boy, which has caused a certain reaction from certain people, particularly those in the media who thrive on seeing sinister motives in anything involving children. Did you guys know that there are gun manufacturers out there who target their products to children?

You did? Oh. So did I.  Apparently some do not. Or at any event are acting as though they do not. Here's NBC News:

Firearms made for minors represent a new market for gun makers, said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center. As the gun market has been saturated, Sugarmann said, gun makers have followed a "path trailblazed by a wide range of other industries, particularly the tobacco industry, and focused its efforts on women and children."

Er, what? This was a .22-caliber rifle. The .22-caliber is actually well-known for being a kid's first real gun. The Boy Scouts offer a merit badge for learning to shoot with them. I am not a big gun person (and thanks to experts here like Jacob Sullum and J.D. Tuccille, I don't have to be), but even I learned to shoot a .22-caliber when I was a kid living in the wilds of New Hampshire. This was around third or fourth grade, certainly a few years older than the boy in the Kentucky incident, but not that much. This is not a new thing, except maybe for those who think the whole country looks like Manhattan or wish it did.

Mother Jones took the fearmongering a step further, yanking a bunch of pictures of kids with guns from the web site for .22-caliber rifle manufacturer Crickett and suggesting that "some people" might find them "unsettling," as though their parents had dressed the children up in Nazi uniforms. I did not fall under the realm of "some people" for the pictures (not even by the obviously staged baby pics). I went to visit Crickett's site myself and found it crashed, so I was unable to get my own sense of context, but here's a bunch of pictures Mother Jones grabbed from them:

Pictures from the scary land known as "Flyover Territory"

Sorry, I don't feel terribly unsettled.