By Jack Hoffman
Christopher Bigoiz was 8 years old when his father invited him and his older brother to attend the annual Machine Gun Shoot at the Westfield Sportsman Club. What Dad had in store for little Chris was firing the new lightweight Uzi.
What was not contemplated was that the re-coil of this new lightweight was greater than the standard model – the rifle backfired and bullets rang out in the direction of his face. Surprised and shocked as many where at the allowing of kids as young as eight to test-fire the machine gun of choice, I began to research the subject only to find this occurrence of a supervised shootout of children as young as eight is commonplace throughout sportsman clubs.
As the vast majority of American hunters close in on old age, firearm makers need a good “shot” in the arm. They do this by recruiting young people as young as eight to get interested in the sport. According to a recent New York Times article, competition was setting in – especially in the last five years. Urbanization and video games were taking their share of the rifle business. It’s highly competitive – the dollars in the youth market.
The arms manufacturers have taken a page from the tobacco companies and set their sights on the youngsters. Youngsters who will be tomorrow’s hunters.
A Philip Morris corporate memo once noted that “today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer [smoker].”
Responding to Americans’ declining interest in shooting sports, gun manufacturers are developing programs to market their products to younger children. The industry-funded NRA spends millions of dollars annually to recruit kids as gun enthusiasts. Their efforts focus on pushing semi-automatic assault weapons, including the very model used by the shooter in the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy. All those school children blown away! A war zone in a kindergarten class!
Machine gun rallies like the ones in Westfield are an example of the efforts put forth by the gun manufacturers They also hold raffles and T-shirt give- aways – all the little goodies the kids would want. Everything short of giving away the real McCoy. There is even a magazine geared to the youth market – “Junior Shooters. ” The magazine that seeks to get children involved with guns, once featured a smiling 15-year-old girl clutching a semiautomatic rifle. SEX sells! Teen sex sells!! The article extolled target shooting with a BushmasterAR 15. It also included a special section in the magazine where the reader could get a coupon for buying one. The author encouraged the youngsters to share the article with a parent. The coupon was real cute.
“Who knows?” “Maybe you’ll find a Bushmaster AR15 under your tree some frosty Christmas morning.