The New Republic reports that at a recent gun industry trade show in Las Vegas, not far from the site of the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in US history, American gun manufacturer WEE1 Tactical introduced a new gun called the JR-15:
The JR-15 is a .22 Long Rifle that functions like a modern sporting rifle, however and most importantly its small size, lightweight rugged polymer construction and ergonomics are geared towards smaller enthusiasts.
Our goal was to build a truly unique shooting platform that a Parent or Coach can safely use to teach a younger enthusiast. The JR-15 is smaller, weighs less and has a patented safety.
Weighing in at only 2.5 pounds, the 16-inch barrelled JR-15 is pitched as a kid-sized version of the popular AR-15 rifle, though it's really a single-shot. For what it's worth, it comes with a "special" safety switch that — according to the company — "requires strength and dexterity to release…thus, adding a level of safety found on no other firearm of any size." And hey, it also comes with a limited lifetime warranty! Here's a flyer for the gun:
Now, in the interest of fair coverage, it's only right that I share this passage from an article I wrote 5 years ago, which I still hold to be technically true:
Sure, they might look like badass Rambo weapons, but AR-15s and their ilk are technically no more deadly than your average wood stock long rifle. Contrary to popular belief, they're notfully automatic machine guns, but rather shoot one bullet per trigger pull. They're also one of the most popular guns in the country, thanks in part to their versatility— which means they'd be harder to get rid of, too.
While it's true that AR-15s are a common factor in mass shootings, it's worth remembering that mass shootings only comprise a tiny fraction of gun homicides in the US. This makes them no less tragic, of course. But if someone is hellbent on mass murder, they can do it just as easily with a semi-automatic handgun.
In fact, handguns are already responsible for about two-thirds of the gun homicides in the country.
There. I said that. And frankly, I largely still stand by it, if we're actually having a grand but nuanced discussion about gun violence in America.
But I also recognize that some 18,000 American children and teens are killed by guns every god damn year. And that marketing kid-friendly killing machines is absolutely not going to help reduce that tragic statistic — and in fact will most likely increase the likelihood of domestic violence incidents involving firearms, which are one of the greatest threats from gun violence.
For further context, I'll also share one last bit from MEAWW:
The owner of the company has been identified as Eric Schmid, who also happens to own Schmid Tool. He was seen promoting the JR-15 in multiple YouTube videos from SHOT Show 2022. According to a LinkedIn profile, the based businessman has owned Schmid Tool since May 1995. The only other thing the profile mentions is that he graduated in 1995 from The University of Utah with a BFA degree.
Interestingly, Schmid Tool's website claims to be a "women-owned family business," so it's not clear how Schmid is connected to the company. The firm specializes in "precision CNC machining and turning services" and "custom assembly services." Fast Company's report on the story says Wee1 is an offshoot of Schmid Tool, which appears to be the case since both company's logos are seen at SHOT Show on YouTube. A press release also says Schmid Tool has been "the firearms market for over 40 years," with over 30 years of experience in providing "firearms components to our customers in the AR-15 market."
In my own experience with gun journalism, that all tracks.
A Gun Trade Show Is Advertising the "JR-15," an AR-15 Rifle for Kids [Prem Thakker / The New Republic]