a semi-automatic rifle aimed at children creates controversy in the United States

It is “the first of many weapons that will help adults introduce children to the sport of shooting safely”, boasts the specialized company WEE1 Tactical.

The JR-15, a rifle specially designed for children modeled on an assault rifle used in several deadly shootings, has recently appeared on the market in the United States, provoking the anger of associations fighting against violence caused by personal weapons. This is “the first of many guns that will help adults introduce children to the sport of shooting safely“, according to the company WEE1 Tactical, which salutes on its website a rifle “like mom and dad’s weapon“.

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The JR-15 (for “Junior”) is only 80 cm long and weighs less than a kilo. Supplied with magazines of 5 or 10 cartridges of 22 caliber long rifle, it was released in mid-January at a price of 389 dollars. The adult model, the AR-15, is the civilian version of a military-style weapon that was used in a series of killings, including school killings, that shocked the United States.

Recurrent shootings

Shootings are a recurring scourge in the United States where the right to own weapons is guaranteed by the Constitution. Attempts to regulate their sale are often blocked in the US Congress, where the powerful NRA arms lobby wields strong influence.

On December 14, 2012, an unbalanced young man killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut (northeast), a tragedy that had a profound effect on public opinion.

The AR-15 was also used in the Las Vegas shootings in 2017, the deadliest in recent history in the country with 58 deaths, or Parkland High School in Florida (17 deaths) in 2018.At first sight, it looks like a grotesque farce. On closer inspection, it’s just grotesqueJosh Sugarmann, executive director of the organization Violence Policy Center, which fights against gun violence, commented on Friday.

Attract young customers

The Newtown Action Alliance, a pro-gun control group, condemned the gun lobby and manufacturers whoeverything to continue to amass profits“. Josh Sugarmann castigated the imagery used by the manufacturer to attract young customers: a pirate skull with an Iroquois haircut for boys and blond duvets for girls, a pacifier in their mouths.

In his report on the methods of American arms manufacturers to attract young people published in 2016, he denounced the weapons painted with bright colors – pink, red, orange or metallic purple – appreciated by young audiences, and lighter to handle. In 2021, firearms killed nearly 45,000 people in the United States, including about 24,000 suicides, and more than 1,500 minors were killed, according to the Gun Violence Archive.