A few weeks ago, a story appeared in the New York Times, indicating that the NRA was behind a campaign of essentially normalizing guns for children. The idea was to get kids into things like paintball, but also to plant the seed in their minds that maybe shooting real guns was worth looking into down the road.
I hope whoever wrote this story wins an award somewhere, because it reveals exactly what those of us who want fewer guns, and not more guns, are up against. In some way, it allowed us to get the drop on the NRA. Ironically enough, I just used a term that had its origins as a gun reference, before taking on a more general meaning later on. Funny how that works.
So when I saw the display above in a big box store in the suburbs today, I felt happy. The item being sold off was a gun that can be used in a snowball fight. It was a cheap plastic thing that looked like it relied on rubber bands to propel the snowball, and someone bought these up and priced them at $20. Today, they were being sold off at $6 each, and there were enough of them on hand to give me the distinct impression that the store had wildly overestimated the public’s interest in such a product.
We received very little snow this winter, and since it’s nearly March, all Winter items are probably going to be sold at a markdown soon. But I want to believe that whoever thought a snowball gun was a good idea has learned a lesson. May we never see such a stupid product on store shelves again.
Any kid–and I’m convinced nobody over the age of about twelve would want this–who wants to shoot a snowball at someone is not the kind of kid I want my own kids to be around. The NRA is probably giddy about it, though.
Maybe this is how the Newtown shooter, or the Aurora shooter, or any of a thousand other people who pull a trigger and end a life–or at least try to–got their start. Not with a snowball gun, perhaps, but with the idea that it’s acceptable to use a weapon to hurt someone. If ever there was a place where no weapons should ever be used, a snowball fight is it.
Should these childhood rituals ever become militarized, the NRA really will have a victory on their hands. But the scene at one suburban store has me hopeful, at least.