A so-called “rifle for kids,” formally known as the JR-15, caused public controversy last year. However, it has reemerged on the market with new marketing which does not feature “baby skulls” in its ads, a report points out.
Child Skull Branding Really Stood Out
The JR-15 rifle is produced and sold by the Wee1 Tactical firearm firm and it sparked public backlash in 2022 after using “cartoonish logs” to target children as its clients, Vice reported.
The initial branding of the “rifle for kids” by the Illinois-based company showed two skulls with “gendered” features – a boy sporting a yellow Mohawk and a girl with yellow pigtails.
Both were wearing crosshair patches and pacifiers alongside a side inscription reading “Wee1 Tactical,” with the report describing the rifle’s original branding as “creepy.”
It added the JR-15’s unveiling at the Las Vegas 2022 SHOT Show led to a “swift and severe” public outcry causing lawmakers in California and in Congress to move to limit gun advertisements for children.
Democrat-dominated California, in particular, passed a “sweeping ban” on firearm ads targeting children. Vice commented the “pro-gun right” saw the matter differently and its lobbyists tried to block the California state law.
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia suggested school children who were targeted in the Uvalde, Texas mass shooting last May might have been able to defend themselves if they were in possession of JR-15 rifles.
The JR-15 is described as a .22 caliber gun of the type that is typically used to hunt small animals or for marksmanship. The report notes, however, that the JR-15 seems to have been designed to resemble an AR-15. The latter is characterized as the rifle “used in countless mass shootings.”
The logo for the JR-15 WeeOne long rifle is a skull sucking a pacifier. pic.twitter.com/ILyAdJtPyT
— James Sides 🏳️🌈🇺🇲🌊 (@SidesJamesW) January 20, 2023
With school shootings up roughly 10X in a decade WEE1 Tactical came out with the JR-15 model made specifically for kids. It’s being marketed right now at the Las Vegas trade show. The logo on the gun has a skull with a pacifier. 🤦🏼♀️ A small piece of American freedom? 🙅🏼♀️ pic.twitter.com/qNrGbAhL4X
— ShariBearpaws🐻🐾Honeypot🍯🧸🪶Resist🌊🐕🦺🌻🐈⬛ (@Sharibearpaws1) January 18, 2023
Producer ‘Learned Its Lesson’
According to the website of arms maker Wee1 Tactical, .22 bolt-action rifles have been available to youth for a long time now. However, its JR-15 features “a blow-back semi-automatic action.”
The producer touts its gun’s safety features, including a safety switch whose release necessitates “strength and dexterity.”
As it has now relaunched the JR-15 to the market, though, Wee1 Tactical seems to have rebranded it towards a “more adult” audience, Vice pointed out.
The report stressed the new JR-15 pamphlet appears to be “significantly less cartoonish,” sporting no “child skulls” or fonts for children.
At the same time, however, the branding is perceived as still being directed at youth because it advertises the guns’ sporting rifle functions, smaller size, and ergonomics.
Josh Sugarmann, the head of the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit, said Wee1 must have decided to rid itself of its own “cartoonish” JR-15 marketing because of the public outcry and the California state law that banned gun advertisements for children.
Sugarmann described the gun and the notion behind it as “repulsive and grotesque.”
He insisted the arms producer learned its lesson on the marketing and branding front. Therefore, it switched to a new model under which it is still targeting children for its gun sales, but doing it in a more surreptitious manner.
It's a rifle… for kids… https://t.co/uOrlQ4EO4h
— Motherboard (@motherboard) January 19, 2023
BREAKING: A gun trade show in Las Vegas is hosting a manufacturer promoting its “JR-15,” a child-size AR-15 rifle. RT IF YOU THINK ALL ASSAULT RIFLES SHOULD BE BANNED!
— Erica Marsh (@ericareport) January 18, 2023
The 'JR-15' Rifle for Kids Is Back, Without Baby Skulls In Marketing This Time – VICE https://t.co/QyxgxKHdVW
— Lisa Rogers Lowrance (She/her) (@LisaTheRiveter) January 19, 2023