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.

NEXT: Analysts: Islamic Militants, U.S. Counterterror Policy to Blame for Somali Famine

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Sorry, I don't feel terribly unsettled

    Well, the one where they let their 5 year old girl pose with a gun while pounding a can of Four Loko is kinda bad.

    1. No. That's awesome. Pisses off all the right people.

      1. Although, come to think of it, it shoulda been Wild Turkey.

        1. and shouldn't there be a stogie in the corner of her mouth?

    2. That's my favorite one.

      Aside from the contrast with the little pink rifle and purple hoodie, it does indeed piss everyone off.

      We saw a similarly cute sight at a shooting range a while back. A dad was walking with an AR style rifle and unknown guns/ammo in the bag in his other hand.

      Behind him was a little girl about 5 or 6, pink shooting glasses, purple ear muffs with my little pony stickers on them, with a little pink .22 rifle like rifle in her hand (pointed straight up), and a small (presumably) ammo bag in her other hand.

      1. I had assumed the can had been a target and she was showing off her marksmanship. There's nothing wrong with little kids "owning" guns as long as they only have access to them when being supervised. My 6 year old has a baseball bat but only has access to it during batting practice.

  2. Use that 2nd Amendment while you can, kids.

    1. If more parents taught their kids properly about guns, there would be fewer accidental shootings. Five is a bit young -- when I grew up, we started shooting around 8, and going hunting on our own around 10 or 12. But no parent should give any kid a gun without teaching them to always treat it like it is loaded.

      1. I seriously doubt the average 5 year old has the mental capacity to understand and apply the rules of gun safety. Hell, I'm an adult and sometimes I have to stop and think about which direction is really a safe direction, for example. They are kind of abstract.

        I'm surprised by people shooting at 8; I don't have the experience as I grew up in a very anti-gun enviro and generally don't hang with rural folks here in PA. Maybe it works, I dunno. I just don't get why kids that age can't be doing other things and graduate to firearms later.

        1. Because their little legs are too short to reach the Harley's pegs and their lack of stamina requires you to duct tape their little hands to the throttle.

  3. Looks like I'll be picking up the kids from school early today so I can take some pictures before the wife gets home...

  4. Even though I can't stand this movie (I know, I'm a heathen) I feel like this cannot go unreferenced:

    You'll shoot your eye out!

    1. jesse, I hate it too. It's terrible. We are now the Axis of Grinch.

      1. Axis of Grinch

        Done and done. Although I think I already achieved that when I went through and replaced all of my younger brother's Christmas presents with coal during the night a few years ago. My parents were not amused. It was the first Christmas that I didn't have to hear him whining like a self-entitled prick because he only got 7 video games instead of 8, and one of them was the wrong game and he wanted to play it now instead of having to go to the store to exchange it.

        1. It sounds like your little brother is my little sister.

          1. It sounds like your little brother is my little sister.

            another win for the Sodomites!

        2. I don't want to hear your sob stories, jesse. If I got a game it had to be educational. I didn't get toys. You want a Transformer? Fuck you, here's something educational. You want some GI Joes? Fuck you, here's a computer. Oh wait, a computer was pretty cool.

          1. So that's what you're taking out on all these other people's moms...

            1. Don't you dare make me look at my own motivations! Let me stew in my own hatred and self-loathing!

          2. My parents thought it was funny to hide the present I wanted most in reserve and then after everything was done they'd give it to me. They seemed to revel in the look of quiet disappointment they were able to generate because I wouldn't complain that I hadn't gotten the one thing I'd asked for.

            I got some sweet presents in my day although a month later they were "gifts for the family" instead of mine and my other siblings would completely take them over.

            1. Your parents kinda sound like jerks.

              1. Haha, yeah kinda. Everyone who knows them thinks they're great people, but awful parents. On the bright side, I have an endless supply of childhood stories if I ever pitch a sitcom.

                1. Yeah, but you got the last laugh. "Hey Mom, remember that one time when you didn't get me that GI Joe hovercraft, and then 20 years later I sucked a bunch of dicks?"

    2. Jesse, can I get a ruling on this?

      1. Haha, I saw that. Dude is nuttier than an almond joy. I hope he finds all the happiness in the world as a true son of Judah, but he'll probably be back to his sodomitical ways once the fervor of the freshly converted wears off.

        Or he's a sly genius and this is a way for him to get another 15 minutes of internet fame. Either way, kudos to him for making what he feels is a positive change in his life.

        1. I was wondering what his end game was. You're probably right about it being fame. He is going to have to apologize to a lot of people when he goes back, though...

          1. Being an internet star means never having to say you're sorry?

            Although Bardas is right, he never says he isn't going to have a bit of man on the side.

        2. He says he wants a wife and kids. He doesn't say he's givin' up the homosex.

    3. I didn't mind the movie until TNT or TBS (one of those stations owned by that douche Ted Turner) started a new tradition of showing it over and over again every Christmas Eve.

  5. They still really want to make gun makers look like tobacco companies. I wonder if they are going to try to sue "saturday night special" makers again?

    1. So I can get lung cancer from guns?


      *shakes fist*

      1. Lead poisoning.

        1. You have to work pretty hard at it, though...

  6. Demonize, demonize, demonize. The BAN BONER crowd is going for FULL DEMONIZE. Get ready for tons more of this.

  7. 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."

    Holy fuck.


    1. This is proof that he's a deceptive scumbag and not merely uninformed or perhaps taking a coincidentally convenient interpretation of the facts.

      Rifles like these, marketed to the parents of children, have been around for decades.

    2. As the gun market has been saturated
      and when did that happen?

      1. Those ARs are spending a whole hour on the shelf. Saturation!

    3. If they don't market to women, they're discriminating because of sexism. If they do market to women, it's because they're trying to prey on women's fears to brainwash them into the gun culture, doncha know.

  8. Didn't realize the gun was loaded?

    Unacceptable. That's not the kind of thing you should ever be mistaken about.
    Also, didn't they ever teach the kid about not pointing a gun at anyone* whether you think it's loaded or not?

    *Unless you are intending to shoot them.

    1. The parents were obviously idiots. And they live in Kentucky. But then I repeat myself.

      1. Yep--the parents are the ones who fucked up. Not by giving a kid a .22 rifle, which is pretty common in rural areas, but by not following the standard safety practices.

        If nothing else, if they weren't bringing it outside to plink with, it should have been locked up, at least. The parents lost their two-year-old due to their own stupidity.

      2. Hey, I would trade both of my senators for one of the senators those folks in Kentucky elected.

        1. Mitch McConnell's dreamy, isn't he?

          1. I will trade you McConnell, but I dont want anything back.

            1. That was for CE.

      3. Fuck you, clown.

        1. rob, he's from Ohio.

          *grabs popcorn*

    2. Duh. The gun is ALWAYS loaded.

      But then, some people just can't abide by The Rules...

      1. I can't blame the kid for not following the rule, he was only 5.

        What I can do however is blame the parent, you simply do not leave a child too young to understand and internalize rule 1 of fire arms alone in reach of a firearm. This is the very definition of criminal indifference.

        That said I don't think any criminal prosecution is required here, those parents are 99% likely going to punish themselves far more harshly than the State ever could. It is bad enough having to bury your child, knowing that it was ultimately your own negligence would make it infinitely worse.

        1. It is bad enough having to bury your child, knowing that it was ultimately your own negligence would make it infinitely worse.

          yup, yup, and yup. There is no prison worse than the one inside their heads.

        2. you simply do not leave a child too young to understand and internalize rule 1

          I beg to differ.

          I don't blame the parent for not locking up the gun, I blame the parent for not impressing the proper respect for firearms upon the child.

          This whole notion of locking up guns is bullshit. I've told this story before, so apologies to those who've heard it.

          When I was 4, my dad sat me down on the floor in front of our hallway closet. He took out his hunting rifle. He said it is not to be feared but it must be respected. It is never to be touched without permission from me. All guns should be treated as if loaded. He explained to me the possible repercussions of mishandling a firearm. And then he asked me how I would feel if I accidentally killed mommy or my little brother.

          I left in tears. But do you think that left an impression on me? I'm 48 and can remember sitting there at the age of 4. The gun was NEVER touched.

          The problem is, today's parents are too chicken shit to sit down and have the hard talks. Five isn't too young to understand. You gotta have a parent that demands responsibility and is not afraid to talk to the kid about how the real world works.

          1. I didn't say the gun had to be locked up, placed on a high shelf would have sufficed and while I agree with you on the lecture I am sad to tell you from experience with my own children (no not related to guns thankfully) that such lectures are not always effective.

            For example, a couple of years ago we got our first flat screen TV and Wii at the same time, I had a very stern lecture with our kids (then aged 6 and 8) that the Wii was not to be played unless Mom or I were in the room with them and they were always to use the wrist straps with the controlers.

            Less than a week later a Wiimote went through the TV at 6 am on a Saturday.

            I have absolutely no doubt that the potential consequence of death would have had no more impact on my 6 year old son than the consequence of being without a TV (probably less so since video games are one of the most important things in his life).

          2. In this case, the gun was intended to be owned (?!) by the five year old. Saying "don't touch" wasn't going to be enough.

            And while it's great that it worked in your case, there is no way on earth that I would trust the life of one of my children (if I had any) to the emotional impact of a speech I gave them. My arms would be locked up/trigger locked/vital parts removed (and obviously unloaded) at all times when I wasn't in immediate control.

        3. those parents are 99% likely going to punish themselves far more harshly than the State ever could.

          We'll see, but I give 50/50 odds that they start pushing for at least a state if not national level law (named after their dead 2 year old, natch) banning the possession of firearms by minors.

        4. knowing that it was ultimately your own negligence...

          If Mother Jones gets their way, this thought will never cross the parents' minds while they visit Senators and ask them to shut down the evil gun manufacturers who murdered their little angel.

      2. Duh. The gun is ALWAYS loaded.

        I remember one time in the Army when I was doing pre-deployment physicals, and this PFC was sitting in the row of chairs in front of me with his M16 pointed at me. I knew it wasn't loaded, because I could see that the magazine well was empty and, since he left the dust cover open, I could see light down the barrel. Still, in by best slightly too loud NCO voice I said:

        SGT Mensan: Private, why are you pointing that weapon at my face?

        PFC: *terrified blank stare*

        SGT Mensan: Are you planning to shoot me? Did I do something to piss y... Holy shit! Do you have your finger on the goddamn trigger?!

        PFC: I'm sorry, Sergeant. It was an accident. I didn't mean it.

        By this time I had snatched the rifle out of his hand. I told him to go get his squad leader and that I would give the rifle back to him instead since the private clearly needed more training on how to handle a weapon. He finally showed back up about 20 minutes later red faced and dripping sweat. I gave the rifle back to the SSG who apologized for the platoon idiot and kept going on about how he's seen 5-year-olds with better muzzle discipline.

    3. We have a .22 rifle the kid use. The had the FOUR RULES driven into their heads before they were allowed to touch the thing.

      This kid broke at least 2 of those rules - and I agree - Unacceptable - I blame the parents.

    4. Also, didn't they ever teach the kid about not pointing a gun at anyone* whether you think it's loaded or not?

      We don't know if he pointed it at his sister or just failed to keep it from pointing at her. A gun is always pointed at something, of course.

      At 5, I really doubt he could understand the safe direction rule well enough to implement it (it's actually NOT that easy).


  10. Yep - I became a bitter clinger cause my dad gave me a .22 when I was...10 or so. First "gun" was a Daisy BB gun at age 8 - Christmas present. Still have it...and BOTH eyes, amazingly enough.

    Yeah, this would be shocking, if parents hadn't been giving kids .22's for like....ever.


    PS Kind of funny - I also taught all my kids to shoot with a .22, now that I think of it.....WEIRD!

    1. I still have my .22 cal. 18 shot semi-auto assault rifle from when I was a kid. Purchased at K-Mart, if I remember correctly. Maybe Sears.

  11. I find it "unsettling" when people parade the bodies of their dead children through the (metaphorical) streets in an attempt to punish me for what some other idiot did.

  12. I also taught all my kids to shoot with a .22, now that I think of it.....WEIRD!

    Not weird, INSANE.

    1. Probably, CRIMINAL!

  13. Sugary snacks are marketed to kids! IN SCHOOLS!!!!

    Same shit. New demon.

  14. I was shooting with rifles with my cousins in Tennessee and in the Cub Scouts. I dunno, maybe starting at age 7 or 8?

    1. I got a single-shot 12 Ga. for Christmas as soon as we moved to TN. 8th grade I believe. That one was literally purchased at K-Mart.

      1. My family have a similar shotgun-a single shot .20ga that as I can find was made in the 70s and typically sold at K-mart as well.

    2. What did they call Tennessee back in the Cretaceous period?

  15. I am not a big gun person

    You are drinking the wrong beer and exercising too much.

  16. I, for one, welcome our new preteen overlords.

  17. I was lucky enough to go to a camp in Maine for a few summers when I was a kid, and we had a Rifle Range for target shooting as part of our activities, and kids as young as 7 were allowed to shoot. The camp had been been opened since the early 1920's. There has never been a single accident at the range involving any injury, primarily because the range was run by ex-military types who set specific rules that were NOT to be broken (when to touch the gun, when to touch the ammo, when to load the ammo, etc.). If you broke ANY of the rules -even the no-talking rule before you enter the actual range- you were sent back to the bunk with shooting privileges revoked. As you can imagine, it's pretty much every normal 7 year olds dream to shoot a rifle, thus you have never seen such well behaved kids before.

    You had crippling injuries and all kinds of other disasters in the water sports and field sports on a daily basis, but not once did anyone ever get hurt at the range.

    1. So, I was at Scout camp and our rifle range was run by a couple of current military guys that, we were told, were instructors at USMA. We were all very well behaved.

      Except one time. The group at the range, including myself, were in between rounds of shooting when a SQUIRREL WANDERED INTO THE RANGE BEHIND THE TARGET POSTS. Everyone got very excited...when the instructor bellowed "I don't want to see anyone shooting at that squirrel!" - and he promptly TURNED HIS BACK ON US.

      Now, being a very literal type very early on, I quickly picked up my rifle and started shooting, laughing my ass off as the squirrel exited the range. After the shooting stopped, the same instructor TURNED TO FACE US, having NOT SEEN A THING, and said "If I find out who was shooting at that squirrel..."

      Good times.

      1. My favorite memories at the range were when we were allowed to bring stuffed animals to shoot as a special treat.

        Inevitably there was always some 7 year old who had his security toy stolen and filled with lead. Kids can be real dicks to each other.

  18. I'm teaching my kids, if I have them, to shoot 12g w/ deer slugs when they're 6. Lose the recoil sensitivity or go home.

  19. First gun I shot was my dad's .22 pistol. Couldn't have been much older than 5 if that.

    Firearms aren't just a luxury outside of city life; they're a necessity. We have snakes, rats, and various rabid critters out here in the woods and farmland. Say what you want, but I'm not going to try to beat a rabid dog to death with a shovel, and I sure as hell ain't waiting 3 hours for "animal control" to show up to tell me they can't do anything about the animal unless they can trap it. Fucking idiots.

  20. Also, what kind of fucking idiot doesn't know if their firearm is loaded?

    1. Yeah, it's this stuff that makes me angry.

    2. Your firearm is always loaded, ALWAYS

    3. A five year old?

  21. I'm only unsettled by the fact that there are no equally adorable pictures of me with a .22 at that age.

  22. I got my first gun for my 8th birthday. Had a BB gun before that which I would have gotten around 6. I was taught to shoot before 8, though. I just didn't have my own gun until we moved out in the county and built a firing range on the property. Still have the gun, Savage .22/20g over/under.

  23. It's unsettling to Mother Jones types (i.e. commies) because they've been doing all this hard work to make sure today's children grow up into pants shitting little pussies like them who believe that guns are magical evul talismans of all that is wrong in this world only to have their efforts seemingly thwarted by parents in "flyover land" teaching their kids that guns are a valuable tool for either self defense or hunting that can and should be used responsibly.

    That said, 5 is a little young to have an actual .22 rifle. A BB gun I could maybe see, but an actual rifle? I don't know if I'd give a 5 year old one if I were a parent. But that's my personal choice.

    1. Depends on the kid, honestly. And "give" him one in the same sense he is given a bike: he's not going to be riding it on long trips by himself for a while.

    2. My assumption was the gun was "his" in name only. Yes, you own it but we control it, type of thing. No one I know would allow a 5 yo unsupervised access.

  24. My brothers in law and I started teaching their kids how to shoot recently. A 4 and a 5 year old. Neither of them is allowed to touch the gun except with the adult laying on the ground next to them and doing everything except looking through the scope and pulling the trigger. They're too young to responsibly handle the gun or load it. But they get to lay there, aim the gun, and pull the trigger. The 4 year old is a fantastic shot already and both are already learning proper respect for firearms.

    It's always been my view that kids should be taught about guns at very early ages. Teach them the respect and rules while their brains are still forming their personality. If gun safety is imbued that early, it just becomes a part of who they are and it's second nature.

    1. Not just a plus WRT gun handling either.

      It gives them a feeling of pride and self worth that they are trusted with such important responsibilities. It carries over to other aspects of their lives.

  25. Knowledge is power, ignorance will be the death of you.

    A child should be taught to shoot for the same reason they should be taught to swim: because the lack of these skills could get them killed some day.

    Same reason they should learn to drive a car, even if you live in a big city and use mass transit and walking.

    First quote on the page.

  26. of course they market the 22 to kids.. what are they gonna shoot a thirty aut six? that's just irresponsible!

    1. My dad taught me respect for guns by letting me shoot his thirty aught six when I was only five. Knocked me on my butt of course, but all I could think about was my shoulder.

  27. The .22-caliber is actually well-known for being a kid's first real gun.

    My first real gun was a Marlin .30-30 Winchester. I was 12 when I got it for Christmas. I had shot other guns, but that was the first one that actually belonged to me. I didn't have a .22 until I joined the Army and they issued me a M16A2.

    1. My first gun was a .243 single shot break action. If we ever have some sort of post apocalyptic scenario or invasion I will make a damn good sniper with that thing. Though I did start by shooting a 22 first.

  28. 5 is just about right:

  29. Wait for the legislation that "prohibits anyone under 18 (21?) from owning and operating a weapon". After all, it's common sense regulation.

    They could even call it "Billy's Law".

    1. It seems that would clearly violate the Second since the well-regulated militia is all able-bodied males at least 17 to 45 years of age.

  30. I sure wish Mother Jones would bother to mention that the Crickett rifle is not "marketed to children"; it's marketed to parents who want a rifle appropriate to a minor.

    Children (or even young adults under 18) can't go out and buy one.

    Parents do that. Parents give their children arms, if the children possess them legally.

    (I'm pretty sure if anyone called and asked them "hey, should I give one of your rifles to a five year old and let him fool around with it essentially unsupervised?" they'd answer "No. Are you insane?"

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.