Youth and guns: Weapons sellers vie for a younger clientele

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Industries promote and market their products, and it is within their rights to do so. At the same time, firearms makers and the National Rifle Association busily promoting guns and shooting to American children in the wake of the Newtown massacre of first-graders is obscene.

Their broad range of activities were set out in a New York Times article Sunday, which was accompanied by a photo of a U.S. Army marksmanship instructor at Fort Benning, Ga., showing "a junior shooter" how to use a military rifle. That practice raises the additional question of why U.S. military resources, paid for by the taxpayer, are used to put on shooting clinics for youths.

The Times reported that in response to research by the gun industry and its concern that young people were losing interest in firearms, gun makers and their allies have developed new strategies to put weapons into youths' hands. Among the approaches used well before the Connecticut killings have been: giving guns and ammunition to youth groups, advertising a low-cost military-style rifle for young shooters, encouraging states to ease laws on hunting by children and promoting semiautomatic-handgun contests for young people.

The promotions of companies such as ArmaLite, ATK, Bushmaster, Glock, Smith & Wesson, Sturm, Ruger and Co. and Winchester targeting children as young as 8 to encourage their families to buy them lethal weapons make plain that they and their allies at the NRA are part of a profit-driven industry, not advocates for innocent hunters or righteous patriots.

The Times article also noted that organizations such as 4-H and the Boy Scouts sometimes serve as vehicles for the gun industry to push its products on young people.

The public must bear in mind the real source of the opposition to the gun safety proposals that President Barack Obama has made and that Congress will consider in coming months. These are people and companies that are shamelessly marketing deadly products to children.

That they have the help of the U.S. military, 4-H clubs and the scouts is appalling. They should step back from assisting the gun industry in marketing to America's youth.



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