In its efforts to hook kids on guns, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is following a trail blazed by the tobacco industry according to a new Violence Policy Center (VPC) study conducted with the Global Survival Network. The 144-page study, Joe Camel with Feathers: How the NRA with Gun and Tobacco Industry Dollars Uses its Eddie Eagle Program to Market Guns to Kids, was released on Wednesday, November 19th at a 10:00 AM press conference in the Lisagor Room at the National Press Club located at 14th and F Streets, NW in Washington, DC.Does that sound reasonable to you? Do you think the NRA and the gun manufacturers of America would actually do something like this? If the answer is yes, is it any worse than the other brain-washing types of advertising we live with every day?
The study takes a hard look at the NRA's Eddie Eagle "gun safety" program which the organization has aggressively promoted as an alternative to gun safety measures such as child access prevention (CAP) laws (which require that adults store their firearms safely and inaccessible to children) and legislation mandating the use of trigger locks.
The study finds that the primary goal of the Eddie Eagle program is not to safeguard children, but to protect the financial and political interests of the NRA and the firearms industry. The program makes firearms more palatable to children and youth, helping to recruit them into America's gun culture. The Eddie Eagle program employs strategies similar to those used by the tobacco industry from youth "educational" programs that are in fact marketing tools to appealing cartoon characters that put a friendly face on a hazardous product. While the tobacco industry denies that it is marketing to children, the NRA and the gun industry openly admit that they are.
Another way to question it is if guns are so good for us, why would gun rights folks react so strongly to criticism like this? Why don't they just admit this is what it's all about and it's for our own good?
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.
Other key findings of the study include:
Study co-author VPC Health Policy Analyst Sue Glick adds, "The real purpose of Eddie Eagle is not to keep children safe from guns, but safe with guns. Eddie Eagle flies in the face of everything public health experts teach to prevent injury from dangerous consumer products. The NRA expects kids to be responsible for their own safety essentially guns don't kill, kids do."
- NRA staff describe the Eddie Eagle program as the "clean-up committee" to help burnish the NRA's public image after gun control battles.
- The NRA uses Eddie Eagle as a lobbying tool in its efforts to derail the passage of child access prevention (CAP) and mandatory trigger lock laws.
- In its attempts to use the credibility of other organizations to promote the Eddie Eagle program, the NRA has misrepresented awards granted to the program by the National Safety Council, which has issued a series of sharp rebukes to the NRA. The NRA has also erroneously claimed endorsement by D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and the Black United Fund, Inc.
- Rather than recognizing the inherent danger firearms in the home pose to children, and the often irresponsible firearms storage behavior of adults, the Eddie Eagle program places the onus of safety and responsibility on the children themselves.
- Public health researchers have found that "gun safety" programs like Eddie Eagle are ineffective in preventing unintentional death and injury from firearms. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "[b]ecause even the most well-behaved children are curious by nature and will eagerly explore their environment, the safest thing is to not keep a gun at home."