Democrats and corporate media joined forces this week to malign a gun manufacturer for selling a gun that will help adults teach their kids how to safely handle and shoot a firearm.
There’s nothing inherently illegal about gun manufacturer WEE1 Tactical’s all-black JR-15, a 2.5 lb .22 long rifle designed to function “like a modern sporting rifle.” As a matter of fact, once it hits the market later this year, the JR-15 will be one of the safest introductory firearms for sale.
Yet, seven Democrat senators are renewing their demands that the Federal Trade Commission punish legitimate gun manufacturers like WEE1 for allegedly marketing “assault rifles” and “deadly weapons of war” to young children.
“Coming Soon to Stores: The AR-15 for Kids,” one New York Magazine Intellegincer headline blared.
“A child-size rifle with cartoon skulls, inspired by the AR-15, raises concerns,” The Washington Post stated.
“AR-15 rifle for kids marketed weeks after a 6-year-old shot a teacher,” Business Insider fretted.
The attempt to discredit a perfectly legitimate company for manufacturing and marketing a perfectly legal gun is clearly a coordinated political move.
“The Federal Trade Commission is nonpartisan. It’s designed to be nonpartisan. And now you’ve got partisan senator pressure asking them to take a partisan policy position on First Amendment-protected free speech,” Mark Oliva, managing director of public affairs at The National Shooting Sports Foundation, told The Federalist. “Nothing that [WEE1 is] advertising on this is illegal. Nothing of it is criminal. Nothing is factually wrong. They’re going after it because they don’t like it. They’re trying to weaponize the Federal Trade Commission to achieve their policy positions.”
Brother-sister duo Eric Schmid and Heidi Schaefer of WEE1 designed the JR-15 to be a smaller, lighter, and safer version of an AR-15 that can be used to teach kids about gun safety.
“Our goal was to build a truly unique shooting platform that a Parent or Coach can safely use to teach a young enthusiast,” a flyer promoting the firearm states.
Schaefer reaffirmed this commitment to The Federalist.
“Eric had this idea to create this firearm as a training platform for safety, education, and tradition. That’s really what we’re all about,” Schaefer said.
Schmid specifically equipped the gun with his patented “tamper resistant safety,” which works like a pill bottle cap to stop a child from shooting the gun without adult supervision and permission.
The weapon shares no parts with ARs and uses .22LR, a recreational round with low recoil and low noise, which fosters safer and more accurate shooting. Instead, Schaefer said it “physically operates similar to the AR-15” so that kids interested in shooting sports can familiarize themselves with the modern sporting rifles and .22 LR caliber that are rapidly growing in popularity.
“If you’re going to introduce the next generation into the shooting sports and hunting sports what is a proper platform to introduce them to? Something that nobody uses anymore or something that is modern and what they will find and use themselves when they grow up?” Schmid said.
The firearm also comes with small, single-round and five-round magazines, something anti-gun groups have lobbied to make universal.
Gun Grabbers Whine
Despite the gun’s above-and-beyond safety measures, gun control groups and Democrats called the JR-15’s first debut at the 2022 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas a “grotesque joke,” and “sickening,” and wrongfully smeared one of the safest guns on the market as a “weapon of war.”
The JR-15, like every other gun, was marketed to adults who want to safely share shooting activities with their children, are over the age of 18, and can pass a background check. To this day, WEE1 maintains that the JR-15 is “an adult firearm.”
“It is the adult’s discretion to understand maturity, physically, and emotionally or mentally at what age a child is prepared or youth is prepared for their first firearm experience,” Schaefer told the Federalist.
“Although this gun was made and designed … to help aid in the transfer of our love for shooting sports and hunting to the next generation, it is not made to be sold to children,” Schmid said.
That didn’t stop gun-grabbing groups such as the Brady Campaign from accusing WEE1 of advertising guns to kids for using marketing icons featuring cartoonish, pacifier-sucking skulls and crossbones decked out with mohawks, bows, and eyepatches.
A few months after SHOT Show 2022, 11 Democrat senators wrote their first letter to the FTC demanding an investigation into “the marketing of highly lethal firearms, including assault-style rifles, to impressionable young people.” California Gov. Gavin Newsom also signed legislation that “targets the gun lobby and manufacturers that are preying on our children.”
New Look, Same Safe Gun
Nothing else came of Democrats’ targeted push in 2022, but to avoid distraction from its product and its mission, WEE1 scrapped its old advertising and reintroduced JR-15 at the 2023 SHOT Show with a completely different marketing aesthetic. The baby crossbones with bows and mohawks engraved on the side of the gun was replaced by a sleek black exterior. The booth that once featured bright green and black signs emblazoned with “get ‘em one like yours” was exchanged for bright orange and blue signs and American flags.
The JR-15 was still the same safe gun it had always been. But now it could proceed without any marketing that could detract from the integrity of the product — or so WEE1 thought.
Shortly after the JR-15’s second appearance at SHOT Show, Democrats and corporate media went after WEE1 again for taking a page “straight out of the tobacco companies’ playbook.”
“They’re putting us in the likes of alcohol and tobacco, which children are precluded from enjoying. Shooting sports are not the same. Every single state has a youth hunting program. I’m going to guess that they all have a hunter safety education program to go along with that,” Schmid said.
Despite the renewed backlash from the anti-gun coalition, Schmid and Schaefer have received positive feedback from moms, dads, and their children who have had the chance to try the gun, which is available for sale mid-March, at trial shoots.
“We hope that it, as we roll out, as people get these in their everyday use, that we’ll have a lot of interests and a lot of orders piling up,” Schaefer said. “People can’t wait to get them and use them. We had great responses at range day.”