Gunmaker models kid’s gun on AR-15: ‘Just like mom and dad’s’

Gunmaker models kid’s gun on AR-15: ‘Just like mom and dad’s’
Illinois-based gun manufacturer says the rifle ‘operates just like Mom and Dad’s gun’

An Illinois-based gun manufacturer has come under fire for unveiling a rifle designed and marketed for children and inspired by the semi-automatic AR-15.

Dubbed JR-15, the child-sized assault rifle is 20 per cent smaller than a standard AR-15, weighs 2.2 pounds and retails for $389 (£291), manufacturer WEE1 Tactical said.

“The JR-15 is the first in a line of shooting platforms that will safely help adults introduce children to the shooting sports,” the company said in a statement dated 29 November 2021.

It added that the rifle “operates just like Mom and Dad’s gun”.

The JR-15 was reportedly launched earlier this month at an annual trade show sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Following the launch, gun violence prevention groups slammed the makers.

“The callousness of the National Shooting Sports Foundation to promote a children’s version of the same type of assault rifle that was used in a horrific mass shooting of 20 first graders and six educators in our shared community is just the latest proof that the organisation, and the gun manufacturers it represents, will do anything in pursuit of continued profits,” Po Murray, chairwoman of the Newtown Action Alliance, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The group was referring to the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in which 20 students and six teachers were killed.

The group, which was founded to prevent gun violence after the Sandy Hook shooting, said AR-15 assault rifles have been used in some of the US’s most lethal mass shootings.

Kathleen Sances, president and chief executive of One Aim Illinois, another group that aims to prevent gun violence, said the marketing of assault rifles not only brings shame to the state but has the potential to “increase the threat of gun death and injury to children here and across the nation”.

“At first glance this comes across as a grotesque joke. On second look, it’s just grotesque,” said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Centre.

There has been a spurt of gun violence in the US amid the pandemic. According to the Gun Violence Archive, the country saw 44,868 gun deaths in 2021, a 32 per cent spike in gun violence.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said the rate of gun deaths of children 14 and younger shot up by nearly 50 per cent from the end of 2019 to the end of 2020.