Last month, the JR-15, or Junior 15, debuted at the SHOT Show, billed as the nation’s largest annual trade show for the sport shooting, hunting, and outdoor industry. The event is organized by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a firearms industry trade association. The rifle is manufactured by WEE1 Tactical, an offshoot of Schmid Tool and Engineering, which has sold AR-15 components for 30 years. A November press release from WEE1 specifically notes the JR-15’s appeal to children: “Our vision is to develop a line of shooting platforms that will safely help adults introduce children to the shooting sports,” it reads. To do that, it’s built a gun whose “ergonomics are geared towards children”: it’s lighter than an adult version, at 2.2 pounds, 20% smaller, and with a patented safety mechanism, not standard on AR-15s, which needs to be pulled out “with some force” and rotated before it can fire. Slight tweaks aside, the company boasts that it “operates just like Mom and Dad’s gun.”...
The JR-15 is a .22 caliber rifle, meaning it takes bullets of a .22-inch diameter; .22 caliber rifles are common as starter rifles because their shots are slightly slower than the cartridges used in an AR-15, with lower recoil—less painful for little shoulders. But, says Busse, to tout a .22 as safe is a myth. (The NRA brushes it off as never “a hard-hitter.”) It’s still a semi-automatic rifle that most would consider an assault weapon. “Believe me, you do not want to get shot with a .22,” he says. “To say that they’re nonlethal—that’s a joke.”Specifications aside, the appeal to children is clear: WEE1’s colorful logo comprises two skulls, depicted as a little boy and girl, sucking on pacifiers, and with a gun sight over one eye. The branding “keeps the wow factor with the kids”; the logos come on glow-in-the-dark children’s baseball caps, too...More families used to teach children to hunt; nowadays, “getting up early and sitting in duck blind” is not the norm for kids, Sugarmann says. In 1997, 33% of households had hunters, down to 17% in 2018. That also means a decline in gun ownership, of 32% in that period. So the industry has carved out other routes to drive up sales: focusing more on self-defense, protection of freedoms, and targeting youths—in an effort to secure the next generation of political pro-gun advocates.
Additional information and commentary at Fast Company.
I feel like it’s worth noting that many companies over the years have marketed rifles designed to fit youth, mostly in .22 caliber. Ruger has had it’s 10/22 for decades and it is semi-auto as well. What those products had and have, that’s being aggressively avoided here, was at least a passing resemblance to a hunting rifle. Additionally, they were marketed as serious and dangerous tool that should be treated with respect, not with passing small print nods to safety.ReplyDelete
Additionally, this nonstandard “safety” that requires “some effort” will almost certainly defeat its purpose. A safety works at all because its easy to use and intuitive. It’s something you practice to use properly. They seem to be excited that they developed a safety that the adult doesn’t know and must work to use. I see this “safety” being used incorrectly, or worse, being left off because it’s a pain.
You and I have sparred about young people and firearms in the past, and I respect your position. In this one we agree, whiskey tango foxtrot.
When I read about the safety mechanism requiring "some force", I interpreted that as being designed to prevent the safety from being accidentally DISengaged. So it was interesting for me to read your viewpoint that it might lead to LESS use of the safety between sessions. I frankly don't remember whether my .22 from the 1950s even HAD a safety; I suppose it must have, but clearly I'm not in a position to offer informed commentary on firearm safety.Delete
I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't have a safety. My guess, single shot and you had to pull the firing pin back to cock it? If I'm right, that mechanism would act effectively as a safety if you're trained not to carry it cocked.Delete
It's possible, if not likely, that the manufacturer designed the mechanism such that it can't be loaded without engaging the safety. If that's the case then I would rescind my comment. I did try to answer the question but their site is sadly lacking in detail.
It's been shown many times that complex/difficult systems fail, usually due to mistakes or lack of use. In industry and regulated environments compliance can be forced. Such is not the case in a field, or even a monitored range, where you don't realize the failure until the worst has happened. If putting our seatbelts on was a pull/twist/with force operation, many fewer people would wear them.
It's true that a .223, with 20 times the explosive force behind it, is going to do far more damage, but there are probably 500 lethal locations in the human body that would do just fine as examples of how dangerous a much slower FPS .22LR might be. On the other hand, I had a single-shot Mossberg .22 as a kid, living a semi-rural area. Not a problem. I'd say the problem is the way this weapon is dressed-up--as a man killer/weapon of war--and semi-auto technology is a very different animal; it invites rapid, high-volume discharge. Just what no kid should have access to. Technological determinism is a real thing.ReplyDelete
My daughter learned to shoot HER .22 with a pacifier in her mouth so that really is not an issue. Today she is 32 and very safe with firearms because she has endured years of instruction unlike many modern children. I fail to see how this can be considered a true "assault rifle" as it includes a horrific magazine capacity of one, five or 10 rounds...and it ships with the one round magazine. The AR-15 platform is only known as a "Man Killer" to those with zero firearm education most of us consider it just another well designed popular firearm...ReplyDelete
because she has endured years of instructionDelete
The word 'endured' is doing a lot of work there. Lol.
Platforms matter. A Hummer and a Corolla. A bayonet and a butter knife. The entire history of the AR platform is war related. Yes, there's symbolism in that and most any child can be influenced by symbolism. It's a matter of what we are trying to achieve. (Also, this is not a matter of "firearm education." It's more an anthropological/sociological question.)Delete
The AR platform was actually developed and used by the civilian market before it was accepted for use by the military. They developed a better "mouse trap" so naturally it was widely accepted.Delete
You'll shoot your eye out.ReplyDelete
"It's possible, if not likely, that the manufacturer designed the mechanism such that it can't be loaded without engaging the safety. If that's the case then I would rescind my comment."ReplyDelete
I don't think you should rescind your comment. Even if the safety must be engaged to load it initially, with 5 or 10 rounds loaded and semi-auto action, it won't be safe until all are spent.
I suppose with Dad at the range safe protocols would be followed, but as I recall in my youth terrorising squirrels in the woods the difficult safety would not have been engaged.