In taking its calls for virtually unrestricted gun access to the people of America, the US’s major gun lobby group, the National Rifle Association (NRA), has come up with a novel approach. And by ‘novel’, we really mean picture-book.
On its expansive website, the powerful pro-arms group has started sharing kids stories with a twist, taking classic tales and tuning them to include a not-so-subtle pro-gun message. It’s started with two classics of the genre, both accompanied by picture-book animations.
In a retelling of Brothers Grimm story Hansel and Gretel, the starving siblings now have no need to snack on a gingerbread house built by the cannibalistic, forest dwelling witch, instead using their rifles to go hunting. Young Gretel, for one, delights in the thrill of the kill.
“Before long, they heard a rustling in the leaves, and slowly turned to see a magnificent 10-point buck drinking from a stream,” the story says. “Gretel readied her rifle and fired. Her training had paid off, for she was able to bring the buck down instantly with a single shot.”
Perhaps this scene will resonate with kids in the US, but for anyone who grew up watching the classic Walt Disney film Bambi, in which an enchanting fawn’s mother is brutally gunned down by a hunter, it’s likely to be a little triggering.
In the NRA version, Hansel and Gretel then go on to liberate a pair of children taken hostage by the witch. The town celebrates the return of the children by engaging in a mass hunting spree, which readers are told proves a bountiful endeavour. Clearly, Bambi’s mother is not the only adorable woodland creature to have ended up on the spit by the time Hansel and Gretel hang their rifles up for the day.
But it’s not just Hansel and Gretel getting a makeover, with the NRA also publishing a new version of Little Red Riding Hood, imaginatively retitled Little Red Riding Hood (Has A Gun).
As in the original, Little Red runs into trouble on the way to see Grandma:
“She turned as another set of footprints caught her eye, and gasped. Those footprints cast in snow were undeniably the tracks of a wolf. They were fresh, so Red knew the wolf couldn’t have gotten far. Red felt the reassuring weight of the rifle on her shoulder and continued down the path, scanning the trees, knowing that their shadows could provide a hiding place.”
But then, alas, Grandma also finds herself in a pickle. Thankfully, and very much unlike the story’s traditional narrative, the old lady is now packing heat.
“The wolf leaned in, jaws open wide, then stopped suddenly. Those big ears heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun’s safety being clicked off. Those big eyes looked down and saw that grandma had a scattergun aimed right at him. He realized that Grandmother hadn’t been backing away from him; she had been moving towards her shotgun to protect herself and her home.”
The stories may seem borderline satirical, but in an editorial clarifier the NRA assures readers otherwise.
“Have you ever wondered what those same fairy tales might sound like if the hapless Red Riding Hoods, Hansels and Gretels had been taught about gun safety and how to use firearms,” it says. “The author of this piece, Amelia Hamilton has—and NRA Family is proud to announce that we’ve partnered with the author to present her twist on those classic tales.”
Hamilton runs a website called Growing Patriots, decked out with other stories pushing kids to dig-up some love for the ol’ U-S-Of-A, and apparently endorsed by big-time conservative media players like Ben Shapiro.
Hamilton also tweets.
Jesus is the best.
— Amelia (@AmeliaHammy) March 27, 2016
Gun violence at the hands of children is becoming a major issue in the US, and in late 2015 the Washington Post noted that people were being shot by toddlers at a rate of one incident per week around the country.
On the NRA’s website, the children’s stories appear below advertisements encouraging people to join the organisation and help protect gun rights (you get a free NRA duffle bag!) and, of course, purchase firearms.
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