Gun Industry Spends Millions To Turn Kids Into Customers

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 27 2013 2:18 PM

How the Firearms Industry Pours Millions To Get Guns in the Hands of Children

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Eight-year-old Dakota Stevenson looks over pistols at the Smith & Wesson booth during the 136th NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in St. Louis, Missouri

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

With the declining popularity of shooting sports, the firearms industry has come up with a way to make sure it still has customers in the future: Appeal to children. The New York Times’ Mike McIntire takes a detailed look at how around five years ago, the industry ratcheted up a campaign to market its products to younger and younger children through a variety of nonprofit groups it directly finances. These groups sometimes give money and ammunition to youth groups, sponsor handgun competitions for children, and develop video games that directly promote certain brands of weapons. Meanwhile, they lobby lawmakers to weaken any age restrictions that may exist on hunting and shooting sports in general.

Even though the NRA has long supported youth shooting programs, those types of activities were usually confined to using single-shot rifles. The newer efforts introduce children to high-powered rifles and handguns. Even some who say kids can benefit from learning hunting say it’s a bad idea to put such powerful weapons in the hands of young people who are more likely to take risks.

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Meanwhile, thousands of people marched in Washington on Saturday to express support for gun control. Among the marchers were residents of Newtown, Connecticut, the site of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, reports Reuters.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.