The National Rifle Association closed its annual convention on Sunday with “Youth Day,” which is exactly what it sounds like.
The NRA’s “Youth Day” allowed children barely out of diapers to shoot firearms, and even offered a free six-month membership to interested kids in attendance. A day prior, the NRA even welcomed its youngest lifetime member, 3-year-old Elaih Wagan, whose membership cost was fronted by his grandfather.
The event was a huge success, and naturally drove gun control watchdogs in the media completely crazy.
ThinkProgress, a left-leaning blog, was pretty subtle with their coverage of the NRA convention. They chose a “let the pictures do the talking” strategy (while making heavy-handed references to Newtown), counting on you to be completely an abjectly horrified when you look at “youth model” rifles and baby bibs with “NRA” emblazoned on them.
The New York Daily News was a bit more direct, with a headline reading “YOU’RE KIDDING! NRA pushes guns on kids as young as Newtown victims in sick ‘Youth Day’ ” above a story that doesn’t exactly paint a flattering picture of gun enthusiasts.
“I like guns because guns are fun,” they quote one 9-year-old as saying. “I like it because I like the smell of gunsmoke,” said another 5-year-old.
The thing is, it’s hard to objectively determine how to feel about the NRA’s “Youth Day.” It might be shocking and horrifying, seeing kids holding guns, talking about guns, enjoying guns, etc., and you could make an argument that it’s in poor taste, even manipulative, on the part of the NRA.
But is this something we’ve been bothered by before, or is it only since Sandy Hook?
NY Daily does quote several participating parents, and instead of the standard “We need to teach our kids to shoot so they can overthrow the government one day!” line we’ve been accustomed to lately, those quoted emphasized safety and tradition.
“I believe in our Second Amendment rights and want my children to appreciate the safe handling of firearms so the next generation doesn’t easily give that freedom up,” said one parent.
“I’m passing the tradition on to the next generation. Guns are tools. You have to teach kids how to use them safely. When you teach gun safety, you reduce the amount of gun accidents,” said another.
Meanwhile, anti-gun protesters across the street from the convention center protested the event, with one branding it “brainwashing.”
“They shouldn’t be teaching kids how to use guns. What happens when they get older? They might become like that Connecticut killer,” said one protester.
“This is indoctrination,” remarked another. “These kids are too young to see that guns are wrong.”
It’s up to you to decide which side sounds crazier, but it’s a touchy issue indeed. You can check out images of the event here.
What do you think of the NRA’s “Youth Day?” In poor taste? Absolutely horrifying? Normal and harmless? Sound off!
[Image via: lanych / Shutterstock.com]