Put Away Childish Murderous Things (Commentary on "A child-size rifle with cartoon skulls, inspired by the AR-15, raises concerns" By Andrea Salcedo"
JC's Commentary On
By Andrea Salcedo in Washington Post
The ATF (and the FDA, by similar measures) have failed in many ways while compromising the principle of effectively regulating life threatening commodities. They ceded on the side of profit and profiteers a long time ago. Marketing taps into cultural veins, and in turn helps to create, boost and steer them. It's a vicious cycle.
Guns have been part of that conveyance/purveyance since the first Wild West shows that played to settlers, farmers and ranchers during the great expansion. It portrayed the culture to its own, thereby presenting them an identity they could then further celebrate, while the rest of impressionable America emulated cowboys, outlaws, rough riders, soldiers, territorial urban and suburban gangsters etc.
I remember candy cigarettes and bubble gum cigars. Joe Camel was eventually deemed overtly and improperly geared toward children. Kids have been seeing beer commercials since they were old enough to see a TV from their playpens but for a long time liquor commercials were barred from broadcast media. Health warning requirements and other disclaimers continue to provide stopgap loopholes for corporate deniability. I know I'm not alone in finding most of those Rx ads borderline ghoulish, but that's a kind of other story.
When my wife and I recently visited a capacious open air Flea Market just south of Los Angeles, I was somewhat astonished not by its presence, but the magnitude of the cultural marketing of children's toys that included not only these full-scale sized toy assault rifles, but reams of posters venerating historical gangsters.
I abruptly realized that Al Pacino's iconic Scarface portrayal was a turning point that's hence created a more accommodating "altar" upon which numerous other Narco criminal figureheads such as Pablo Escobar and El Chapo share a more current, tangible and seemingly resonant folk-hero status as champions of outlaw justice and vigilante violence. The line of factual and fictional distinction between these figures and say, Batman or Captain America seems extremely blurred. Darker figures such as The Crow, The Joker & V, and Travis Bickel deserve as much adulation and, one might conclude, emulation. Although I spied no brandished likeness of Kyle Rittenhouse at any of these kiosks, one need only visit any neighborhood right wing website (or convention) to see it riding atop a zealous sea of virtual shoulders.
Along these lines of "admirable" reactive violence, the Far Right media continues to cultivate the mental illness they cite as the "true" problem, but there is wiggle room within the taboo realm of safety regulations. Legislated lines have been periodically drawn, most of which succeeded in moving the status quo ever so slightly toward intractable progress.
This current cultural moment presents not only mass casualties at our daily doorsteps, but an all too overdue opportunity for such a legislative step.
For fetishist adults and kids that aspire to "have one just like it", these combat devices should be banned and taken off the market. Detractors will ululate basis protest They should be safely locked away with the grenade launchers, tanks, jet fighters and candy cigarettes. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.
All that said, alas...I must point out that the aforementioned "JR-15" cited in the article, the one being marketed to children--isn't a toy. It's an actual training rifle. Modeled after the AR-15 assault rifle. For children.
The moment is now.