Gun plague hits home with advent of weapon for kids


Berl Falbaum

Periodically, one comes across a story which makes you shake your head and insist, “This can’t be true.”

The following is one of these stories and it is true. We suspect that it may have escaped your radar.

A gun company in Bensenville, Ill., Wee1 Tactical, has manufactured a semi-automatic weapon for children. Yes, you read that correctly. It is called the JR (for junior)-15.

This as shootings at schools are tragically increasing, and recently a 6-year-old shot and seriously injured a teacher in Virginia.

The JR-15 is identical to AR-15s, but it is much lighter and shorter than the weapon for adults. Wee1’s original marketing program featured two skull and crossbones logos: one of a boy with a mohawk haircut and a green pacifier; the other of a girl with long pigtails, pink bows and a pink pacifier. Did I mention that this is all true?

We assume WEE1 recommended pacifiers so that children could calm their nerves when firing the weapon.

In addition to a single bullet, the rifle accommodates magazines for 10 to 15 rounds. A company spokesman says the company is working on a magazine that would hold 20 rounds. The manufacturer brags that the weapon “operates like mom and dad’s.” That means both sides will be equally armed in family disputes.

WEE1 Tactical says the following about the JR-15 on its website:

“The JR-15 is a .22 long rifle that functions like a modern sporting rifle, however and most importantly its small size, lightweight rugged polymer construction and ergonomics are geared towards smaller enthusiasts.

“Our goal was to build a truly unique shooting platform that a parent or coach can safely use to teach a younger enthusiast.” 

Interviewed at a gun show, a WEE1 official said that, given the rifle’s light weight, the gun “fits kids really well. They can manage the weight.”

In an effort, we speculate, to be more responsible, the company has changed its marketing program which was unveiled at a gun show mid-January in Las Vegas, held only a few miles from the site of one of the deadliest mass shootings in 2017 — 60 killed and more than 400 injured — in modern U.S. history. 

Instead of skull and crossbones with pacifier logos, the JR-15 is marketed with a photo of a blond girl (she looks between 6-8 years old), peering through a JR-15 gunsight with a man appearing to help her steady the barrel.

The company tells us the JR-15 is a “small piece of American freedom” that represents “American family values,” adding, “It is the first in a line of shooting platforms designed to safely help adults introduce young enthusiasts to the shooting sports.”

Now, that’s much more responsible.

(All I received on my 11th birthday was a toy pistol with firing caps that duplicated the sound of a real weapon.)

Here are some instructions for parents we might expect in the packaging from WEE1 Tactical:

• They should make sure that the guns are loaded before children leave home and they should check that the safety is off. (Children that young can be forgetful.)

• They should schedule target practice but only after naps when children are rested. Parents should not spare “timeouts” if children refuse to practice.

 • They should reward children with sweets for good target practice scores. Those with failing scores should be punished appropriately.

• They should advise children to take their rifles with them when they go potty.

We suspect the National Rifle Association (NRA) supports the new weapon. The organization may also demand that school children recite the Second Amendment in school and along with the Pledge of Allegiance. After all, the Founding Fathers did not state that children do not enjoy the right to bear arms.

We can easily envision the NRA and WEE1 arguing that the shooting by the six-year-old might never have happened if the rest of the class had been armed. We can hear them speculate that armed classmates “might have been able to stop the suspect in his tracks.”

Indeed, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene suggested after the Uvalde, Texas, massacre, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed last May, that the students should have been armed. She tweeted:

“The kids at Uvalde needed JR-15s to defend themselves from the evil maniac that didn’t care about laws. At least they could have defended themselves since no one else did, while their parents were held back by police.”

We expect a number of reactions from teachers if students are armed with JR-15s.

They certainly will be more careful in disciplining students, particularly with children whose parents belong to the NRA.

Some may teach from behind bulletproof plastic shields and we expect grade scores to soar with teachers becoming more lenient in marking papers. 

The children probably will be enthusiastic about being armed.

They probably will not expect to be punished as much for tantrums. They will no longer be forced to eat spinach nor will they be punished for not doing their homework or for bed-wetting.

I e-mailed WEE1’s press section, asking how many JR-15rs had been sold. Heidi Schaefer, a WEE1 board member, replied the rifle would become available “later this year.”

I am working on a plan to keep news of its availability from children in my neighborhood.

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