Wal-Mart is above selling candy cigarettes – so why does it sell children’s firearms?


May 4, 2013 by Nash Riggins

Earlier this week in Kentucky, a 5-year-old boy accidentally killed his 2-year-old sister using a .22 calibre, fully-functional children’s rifle. Dubbed the Crickett, this very real gun is part of a healthy industry that focuses on the selling of children’s firearms – spearheaded by Kentucky Sporting Arms, who sells 60,000 rifles every year that are specifically designed for kids. American retail giant Wal-Mart stocks the weapons – which come in a range of different colours to attract boys and girls alike – and technically, there’s nothing illegal about that; however, the precedents set within other industries suggest that it should be.

candycigsLet’s talk tobacco. Does anyone remember candy cigarettes? Introduced in the early 1900s, these chalky sugar or bubblegum sticks were wrapped in boxes with labels to resemble cigarettes – and some companies even went so far as to dye the tips red so the sticks appeared to be ‘lit’. Subsequently, studies have proven a statistical link between a history with fake cigarettes and heavy smoking later in life. It was agreed by most that the candy desensitized children, leading the sale of candy cigarettes to be banned in the UK, Canada and many European nations. Shockingly, campaigners have had no such luck in America.

That being said, you don’t see candy cigarettes (or similar tobacco-related products such as Big League Chew) in many American shops now-a-days – why is that? In short, because retailers have taken it upon themselves to ensure these kinds of dangerous products aren’t available for purchase in their stores. Funny enough, guess who led the charge to ban candy cigarettes for the sake of our children’s safety? Wal-Mart – who stocks the .22 Crickett rifle for children.

In fact, on Wal-Mart’s website, one happy customer gleefully reported that she had bought her daughter one of the weapons in hot pink, and that “its so lite its like your not carrying a gun”. Would that children weren’t carrying real guns; however, Keystone Sporting Arms’ yearly sales suggest that quite a few American children are actually packing heat from quite a young age.

ht_crickett_rifle_tk_130501_wgToting slogans such as “My First Rifle” and “Quality Firearms for America’s Youth”, children’s firearms manufacturer Keystone argues that “the goal of KSA is to instill gun safety in the minds of youth shooters and encourage them to gain the knowledge and respect that hunting and shooting activities require”. Indeed, in the past their website has even featured a ‘Kid’s Corner’, which displayed images of toddlers modeling the company’s range of firearms. The children’s site has since been temporarily (and conveniently) removed from the public domain.

Consequently, one can’t help but wonder: if the goal of Keystone is to ‘instill gun safety in the minds of youth’, where does the death of 2-year-old Caroline Sparks – who was killed by her brother’s child-friendly gun – come into play?

NRA members in Texas have already rationalised the young girl’s death by shrugging that these weapons ‘aren’t toys’, and that it ‘comes down to the responsibility of adults’ to ensure that serious accidents are avoided. For once, they’re absolutely right: guns are not toys, and it’s the responsibility of adults everywhere to ensure that children aren’t set up to make more fatal mistakes just because their gun-toting parents possess an innate desire to condition their children to adore firearms. After all, if candy cigarettes have been scientifically proven to hurt kids, what the hell do you think cute, pint-sized rifles do to them? Perhaps America’s largest retailer should think on this the next time it wants to rationalise banning the sale of a product in the name of ‘child safety’.


3 thoughts on “Wal-Mart is above selling candy cigarettes – so why does it sell children’s firearms?

  1. lwk2431 says:

    A kid who gets a gun like this and it taught safety and responsibility by an adult who _SUPERVISES_ the kids possession 100% of the time it is his hands is well on his way to becoming a responsible gun owner as an adult. Like my son who starting learning early in life and now is a United States Marine.

    The problem is this case is that the adult parents were not responsible enough to supervise the kid 100% of the time. It is very unfortunate but that is a burden those parents will have to bear for the rest of their life.


    • Fuck the NRA and it's followers says:

      My 5 year old has a motorized hot wheels car that he drives. I supervise him and make sure he’s safe. So, using your logic, he’s well on his way to becoming a responsible driver. While I’m preparing him for life, I think I’ll start pouring him kid sized mugs of beer. So he can learn to drink responsibly. Maybe I should buy him a box of XS condoms, too, and start teaching him about sexual responsibility. Because a kid who still believes in Santa and is afraid to sleep without a nightlight is perfectly reasonable and mature enough to be taught how to handle a deadly weapon responsibly.

    • Julie says:

      The article is about the hypocrisy of Wal Mart implying they are looking out for kids by not selling candy cigarettes while still selling children’s weapons. Also, candy companies have not called this candy “cigarettes” in years. They were labeled candy “sticks” many years ago. Its candy, geez, light up, I mean lighten up!

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