Gunmaker Under Fire for Launching AR-15 for Kids, Reports Say

  • An Illinois gunmaker is launching a miniature AR-15 rifle for kids, called the “JR-15.”
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the weapon “vile” prior to announcing a slate of new gun control measures.
  • Gun safety groups are also calling out the gun manufacturer for launching the JR-15.

Gun safety groups and California’s governor have sharply criticized an Illinois gun manufacturer for unveiling a rifle designed specifically for children, reports say.

The JR-15, or Junior 15, is designed to be “smaller, safer, lighter” than a regular AR-15, gunmaker WEE1 Tactical said in a November press release announcing the gun’s launch.

The child-oriented weapon is roughly 20% smaller than a full-sized AR-15, but the manufacturer claims it “operates just like Mom and Dad’s gun,” according to the press release.

The WEE1 Tactical press release notes: “We believe that this early introduction on will produce a deep respect for firearms that continue and last for a lifetime of safety.”

The .22-caliber long rifle was unveiled last month at the 2022 SHOT show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The shooting and hunting event was sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade association for the firearms industry, according to British publication The Independent.

Newtown Action Alliance, a gun safety group, is one of several organizations to criticize the launch of the weapon.

“The callousness of the National Shooting Sports Foundation to promote a children’s version of the same type of assault rifle that was used in a horrific mass shooting of 20 first-graders and six educators in our shared community is just the latest proof that the organization, And the gun manufacturers it represents, will do anything in pursuit of continued profits,” said Po Murray, chairwoman of Newton Action Alliance, in a statement on Wednesday, per the Independent.

Murray was referring to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which 26 people were killed.

Other critics have come forward to denounce the unveiling of the JR-15.

Kathleen Sances, president and chief executive of gun safety group One Aim Illinois, told the Independent that the marketing of this weapon to kids has the potential to “increase the threat of gun death and injury to children here and across the nation.”

And Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the gun control nonprofit Violence Policy Centre, referred to the JR-15 as “grotesque,” the Independent reported.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the JR-15 “vile” in a tweet on Thursday, noting that the inclusion of the logo, which features a skull and crossbones with a pacifier, was “to look ‘cute’ to appeal to kids.”

On Friday, Newsom announced new measures to hold gun manufacturers accountable for the deaths their products caused.

Insider reached out to WEE1 Tactical for comment early Saturday, but did not immediately receive a response.

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