Gun Company Takes Down Advertisement Targeting Kids After 2-Year-Old Killed By Youth Rifle

Second Amendment advocates like to tell us that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But I’d like to know who’s bright idea is was to start making guns small enough for preschoolers. Because in the case of 2-year-old Caroline Sparks—accidentally shot and killed by her 5-year-old brother April 30— a gun killed a baby. Apparently a shell had been left in the .22-caliber Cricket rifle that was given to young Kristian Sparks as a gift when he was just 4 years old. Thinking the rifle was unloaded—and being too young to understand proper gun safety—Kristian picked up the gun while his mother was in another room, pointed it at his sister in play, and pulled the trigger.

Should a 5-year-old even own a gun? How can a child so young ever understand the magnitude of the weapon in his or her hands? Yet Milton, Pa.-based Keystone Sporting Arms markets two models of rifle designed specifically for young children, the Crickett and the Chipmunk. With slogans like, “my first rifle,” and a “Kids Corner” section on its Web site, the company makes money off of putting weapons into the hands of small children—60,000 in of 2008 alone, the most recent numbers available on the company’s Web site.

Don’t get me wrong. I come from a family of hunters and gun owners. I’m far from anti-gun. When I was in middle school I took the hunter safety course and my dad bought me a youth rifle. Granted, I never had the nerve to actually use it on an animal when it came down to it, but I understand the hunting culture. But I was in middle school. KSA is making guns for preschoolers! Have you ever tried to get a 4- or 5-year-old kid to even sit still long enough to learn about a serious topic such as gun safety, let alone understand what it really means to shoot and kill something… or someone? Children that age will see the tiny guns as toys, and guns should never be considered a toy.

Apparently KSA started feeling some heat after the Sparks shooting, because it has taken down advertisements for the Crickett from its Web site, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook pages. But not before Mother Jones was able to grab hold some of those disturbing images. Can you believe the company actually featured a photo of a baby holding one of its guns? And in a video ad featuring a family checking out the Crickett, the mom is carelessly pointing the gun at her son’s head! Yet the company claims its goal is to “instill gun safety in the in the minds of youth shooters?” Ridiculous!