Americans have guns under their skin

First steps towards gun sales restrictions were made in the U.S. New York has toughened its anti-gun laws. The document addresses the issue of mental health of gun buyers and extends the concept of assault weapons. The federal government promised to support the initiative. However, this is not that simple as the Americans have a deeply rooted affection for guns.

After the shooting of 27 people at an elementary school in Newtown, the American society made a number of interesting proposals on this issue. The National Rifle Association (NRA), considered the "gun lobby," proposed to introduce armed guards in the U.S. schools. The Ohio Association of Firearms organized shooting courses for teachers. The Americans are not willing to part with their weapons arsenal. In the days after the massacre, when rumors of a possible ban on free sale of firearms and ammunition emerged in the U.S., the number of guns sold has dramatically increased.

There were times in the United States when a gun was considered the best gift for Christmas for older boys. In the 1950s, arms manufacturers placed ads in newspapers, prompting to give a Browning rifle as a gift to a beloved woman or a teenager. These colorful posters can still be found online. For example, a poster of a smiling freckled boy unwrapping his gift and yelling: "Gee Dad ... a Winchester! "

Many teenagers of that time who grew up on this kind of advertising and gifts are now protesting against the ban on free sale of guns. Markham Air Rifle company released the first batch of air rifles for free sale back in 1880. The company from Plymouth, Massachusetts, Spiegel wrote, flourished not only because of the simplicity of the design of the weapon, but because it skillful marketing. "The King Air Rifle gives courage and strength to boys, makes them prepared, gives them determination and confidence. Train them and later they will be leaders in the business world," an advertising poster of 1905 wrote.

For many young Americans a rifle has become a symbol of prosperity. Markham Air Rifle's competitor, Plymouth Iron Windmill, later renamed Daisy Company, improved its sales by launching a series of air rifles called Daisy. Since the release of A Christmas Story movie in 1983, it quickly became a holiday classic. Some of its success can be attributed to the fact that a generation of men identified themselves with the main character in the movie, Ralphie, who grew up in Indiana in the 1940s, and dreamt about getting the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle for Christmas.

Daisy Company named its Red Ryder BB Gun in honor of the most popular super-hero of the comics of the 1940s - Red Ryder cowboy. The cowboy from the comics demonstrated an air rifle in advertising, modeled after a rifle from old westerns. Many kids of that era cherished a dream of having a Daisy Red Ryder. Weapons were perceived by boys as a combination of responsibility and adulthood. This rifle can still be found on the shelves of American gun shops.

Since its release in 1938, over 10 million units have been sold. Like for Ralphie from A Christmas Story, games with guns sometimes resulted in the most fatal outcomes. Many mothers worried that their children may lose an eye, and unfortunately, it happened once in a while. However, fathers continued to insist that their 12-year-old offspring were to go hunting with a decent rifle.

The National Rifle Association also encouraged early introduction of teenagers to guns. Military training included training of the younger generation in terms of safe handling of weapons and shooting. This training was similar to the basic military training in Soviet schools. In 1967 Time magazine published an article about a new training program nicknamed by soldiers Quick Kill.

The article quoted 47-year-old Colonel William Koob, chief of weapons at Fort Benning, saying that Quick Kill was shooting in the absence of time for aiming. "When it happens, either kill or be killed." This shooting technique was compared with children's game "cops and robbers" where kids resort to it instinctively.

Igor Bukker


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov