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Guns marketed to children?

May 7, 2013 2:29:36 PM PDT
Children cannot drive until their 16, cannot drink until their 21, but they can shoot firearms long before then.

Gun makers have cute names for kid guns, like the Crickett or Chipmunk and they come in bright colors, even pink for little girls.

Gun advocates say small rifles help teach gun safety, critics say it's all about money.

The Crickett, a light-weight .22 caliber rifle, is a big seller. The manufacturer sold 60-thousand of them in one year.

The Crickett rifle was used by a 5-year-old boy in Kentucky in an accidental shooting death of his 2-year-old sister last week.

To learn more about guns made for children, I went undercover to a Dutchess County WalMart and bought a Crickett rifle. It's legally sold only to adults after a quick background check.

We then took the small rifle to Harrison Police Department's weapons expert who demonstrated the cricket's deadly power.

"They are a rifle just like any other and it can kill animals humans and the like," Lt. Michael Olsey of the Harrison Police Department said.

And the pink rifle we bought designed for girls is just as deadly. Lt. Olsey has no problem with youth guns as a means to teach safety, but only at a certain age.

"I have a child that's 6, I would not introduce it to him yet. Maybe 9,10, double-digits in age. Maybe at that point in time I would feel comfortable," he said.

Gun shop owner Tony Morabito says he taught both his son and daughter hands-on gun safety at the age of 7.

"You rather them know safety or not know anything and find the gun in a closet and pick it up and play with it," Morabito said.

While the proper age for these guns is up for debate, it's clear the firearms industry has made marketing for children a priority. A report by gun lobbying groups called the Need For Aggressive Recruitment Of Youth - URGENT.

Gun opponents say that's exactly what the Cricket and others are all about.

"It's about growing the market for guns in the future. Kids getting hooked on guns just like the tobacco industry wanting kids to get hooked on cigarettes. It comes down to the bottom line of money and profits," Leah Barrett of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence said.

A lawyer for the company that makes the Crickett says the gun is not marketed to children but rather to parents since children cannot buy guns.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation says firearms for children have been around for decades as a way to teach them about gun safety.

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