On Tuesday, a five-year-old boy in Kentucky accidentally shot and killed his two-year-old sister using a Crickett rifle that was made and marketed specifically for children.
The maker of the gun, Keystone Sporting Arms, markets its product with the slogan “My First Rifle.” Business has been booming for the company since its 1996 launch by father-son duo Bill and Steve McNeal, according to its website. In its first year, the company sold 4,000 rifles for kids, and by 2008 that number increased to 60,000 rifles. msnbc host Lawrence O’Donnell explored this feat in his latest Rewrite segment.
“The McNeals hit their marketing target when a family living in a mobile home on Lawson’s Bottom Road in Cumberland County, Kentucky, bought a Crickett for their five-year-old boy,” O’Donnell said.
Focusing on the McNeals rather than the grieving parents, O’Donnell dubbed them “the merchants of this death, the guys who made and sold the rifle that killed this two-year-old girl.”
A visit to the “Kids Corner” section of KSA’s website displays the rifles in a variety of designs and colors ranging from brown to hot pink.
O’Donnell described one picture in which a two-year-old boy holds a rifle in his lap, “because the toddler obviously isn’t strong enough to lift it up. That picture is legal child pornography,” he said. The gallery reveals photos of gun-wielding children too young, O’Donnell said, to even play Little League baseball.
“Because we think fastball pitching is too dangerous for five-year-olds,” he said. “If you are concerned with child safety, you don’t give children guns, you don’t give five-year-olds the keys to the car.”
Against the backdrop of the Newtown massacre and the ongoing national debate over gun control, this tragedy raises questions about the business of guns for children.
“You live in a country where Bill and Steve McNeal legally sell guns for five-year-olds,” O’Donnell concluded. “Tonight, you live in a country where they make and sell guns for little kids. Because they can.”