This is not a piece about gun control. It is a piece about common sense, good parenting, and responsible marketing.
This week a two-year-old girl in Kentucky was accidentally shot and killed by her five-year-old brother with a Crickett, which is a 'kid's rifle.' When I saw the headlines, I thought it must have been some freak accident involving an airsoft gun, the kind which fires pellets that are not usually lethal, but I was wrong.
The Crickett, you see, is nothing like an airsoft gun but is a mini-rifle for children with a .22 caliber. Think of a pickup truck with all its trimmings but only half the size of a regular pickup truck and you get the idea behind a kid's rifle. It may be smaller but it is just as effective (or in this case, deadly).
I understand that there is a rich culture of guns in the United States and that weapons are often passed on proudly from parents to children as heirlooms. Also understandably, those parents want to teach their children how to use those guns safely and responsibly. American parents teach their children how to drive, how to court the opposite sex, even how to drink responsibly when they get older, and all of this training is crucial for a child's development.
But none of this training needs to start at the age of five, or six, or seven, or anywhere near there!
In response to the shooting in Kentucky, Cumberland County Judge Executive John Phelps said, "It's a normal way of life, and it's not just rural Kentucky, it's rural America -- hunting and shooting and sport fishing. It starts at an early age."
It may be a way of life, but that doesn't mean it's sensible or right. I am glad that parents in rural America want to educate their children about guns so that they can grow up to be responsible gun owners, but would those same parents show their son or daughter how to drive and then let them loose on the road before they are in their mid-teens? Of course not, and that's because it's unsafe for children and it's unsafe for everyone else.
Then what exactly were the parents of a five-year-old doing buying him a .22 caliber rifle (even if it's a smaller version), and what exactly is the company who makes Cricketts, Keystone Sporting Arms, doing marketing rifles to children as if they were toys?
Watch the following ad for Crickett rifles:
It's bad enough that gun manufacturers promote their product to adults with little restraint or responsibility, but it is absolutely unconscionable when they design them to be attractive to little kids.
It's time to ask these questions, and it's time for people to start answering them.
SANJAY SANGHOEE has worked at leading investment banks as well as at a multi-billion dollar hedge fund. He has an MBA from Columbia Business School and is the author of a fast-paced thriller entitled "Killing Wall Street", which be released on June 1st, 2013. Please follow him on Twitter @sanghoee and visit his website at www.sanghoee.com