They grow up so fast

Hey kids! Christmas is coming!

We’ve all heard the jingle of the children’s charity Kars4Kids: “One eight-seven-seven cars for kids... Donate your car today!” A certain gun manufacturer might as well appropriate that jingle, revising it as follows: “One eight-seven-seven guns for kids. Buy your kid a gun today!” Preferably a JR-15!

Sorry, but I can’t shake the retrograde notion that guns and kids are a bad mix. Eric Schmid, owner of WEE1Tactical, would disagree. In January, Schmid unveiled a new gun aimed (pardon the pun) at children. It’s a scaled down, fully functional version of the mass shooter’s weapon of choice, the AR-15. Called the JR-15, it is 20 percent smaller than its big brother — the better to fit “kids really well . . . That’ll give them the confidence to hold this thing the way they should have confidence holding it,” Schmid affirms. But is it 20 percent cheaper than the AR-15?

I thought it was bad enough when pink AR-15s began appearing in gun stores. The JR-15 had to be a satire, a joke on the gun lobby, I thought at first. But that the JR-15 is no joke has been corroborated by major news outlets. I wonder what age range Schmid feels would be appropriate for the JR-15.

I was in Vietnam when we transitioned from the M-14 to the M-16. Because the M-16 was smaller and had a plastic stock, we used to mimic the advertising slogan of a popular toy company: “If it’s Mattel, its swell!” But it was no toy. The M16 is the military adaptation of the ArmaLite AR-15. It’s a high-velocity rifle that features semi- or full-automatic firing and holds 20- or 30-round magazines. It’s a weapon of war designed to kill people. I realize kids from time immemorial have played war. I did. But no one gave me a real gun to play with.

Any parent who has bought, or is considering buying, a JR-15 for a son or a daughter should stop and consider this: There is a reason why armed groups have recruited child soldiers. Children have that illusion of immortality, they’re malleable, and they don’t fully appreciate that war is not a game. Children are inevitably and notoriously lacking in judgment.

And as we know from recent experience here in Virginia, not all parents can be trusted to keep their guns out of the hands of children. Witness the six-year-old who shot his teacher in Newport News last January. The problem is no doubt compounded when a child is told a JR-15 is his or her gift. I assume any parent who would buy such a weapon for a child would try to control access to it. But children are often more resourceful and determined than their parents realize.

Such concerns, however, cut no ice with the mindless Marjorie Taylor Greene. “The children who died at Uvalde should have been armed with JR-15s,” she has been quoted as saying. “At least they could have defended themselves when no one else did,” she added. (The Intelligencer, Jan. 27, 2023). I wonder if she knows the victims were elementary school students. What a brave new world we’ll have when young children are trusted to come to school armed. Schoolyard bullies and mean, tough-grading teachers beware!

A postscript: I’m tired of hearing that Democrats “groom kids,” even though it’s true. Most groom them to be sympathetic, empathetic, tolerant, and kind.

Contact Ed Palm at

This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: They grow up so fast