It’s been nearly a week since Kentucky 5-year-old Kristian Sparks killed his 2-year-old sister Caroline with a “Crickett” rifle, sparking a national controversy and an Internet firestorm.
But Keystone Sporting Arms, the company who manufactures rifles especially for children, has done its best to disappear from the Internet, closing the “Crickett” website as well as their Facebook and Twitter pages and accounts.
Visitors to www.crickett.com see a “Red Hat Enterprise Linux Test Page”.
Mark Follman of Mother Jones spoke to Crickett attorney John Renzulli, who said that the site had been “inundated and corrupted” by a surge of visitors and had been shut down by the hosting service.
How the same “corruption” closed Facebook and Twitter accounts was not explained.
Renzulli acknowledged that the accidental death of the two-year-old girl in Kentucky has stirred strong emotions, but said that it was not an appropriate time to continue the debate about gun control.
“This is not about Crickett Firearms,” he said. “We need to respect the privacy of these people. This family is going through a lot. We’re not going to analyze and evaluate what happened here until a full investigation has been conducted by law enforcement. At that point, we’ll comment.”
“Now Is Not The TIme,” of course, comes straight from the NRA playbook; the standard “delay and let emotions die down” response given after every major shooting event.
the Pennsylvania-based maker of Crickett rifles, markets its guns with the slogan “My First Rifle.” They are available with different barrel and stock designs, including some made in hot pink to appeal to young girls.
The Crickett website may have been closed, but the parent website is still running, as is Chipmunk Rifles, another KSA brand made specifically for children.
No Minimum Age?
Crickett.com’s About Page stated that its goal is “to instill gun safety in the minds of youth shooters and encourage them to gain the knowledge and respect that hunting and shooting activities require and deserve.”
No minimum or suggested age requirements for Crickett firearms are given on the site, though text taken from the Crickett.com home page indicates that, “The Crickett rifle is ideally sized for children four to ten years old and comes in a variety of stocks including wood stocks…”
In addition to rifles and accessories, KSA’s Crickett website sold “Davey Crickett” kids clothes and hats and offered gun safety and “Little Jake” adventure books for kids “Grades 2-3 and up.”
The site also had a “Kid’s Corner,” which showed customer-provided images of children whose ages ranged mostly from five to twelve holding rifles. One even showed a Crickett rifle in the hands of a toddler.
Proud parents could also provide testimonials:
“I recently purchased one of your Davey Crickett rifles (My First Rifle) for my 7 yr. old daughter, and I would like to say that I have nothing but positive things to say about it.”
“Thank you for supporting the next generation of recreational shooters. My 4 1/2 year old daughter thought the “pink one” was far superior to a black synthetic stock. Who am I to argue?”
“Instead we bought a pink Crickett for my six year old daughter and wanted to say thanks for making quality affordable firearms for new shooters.”
Gone, But Not Forgotten
Anything to do with firearms is a polarizing topic, and people will no doubt debate the proper age to begin training kids, or even if kids should be trained. We do, after all, have minimum age requirements for operating vehicles and for working with dangerous equipment.
There is also the “gun” double-standard. Would people be so protective of a company marketing, say, “My First Chainsaw” to 5-year-old boys? Kids hoping to grow up to be lumberjacks like dad and instead ending up losing limbs?
Finally, painfully, parental responsibility is a key element in this tragedy. The parents of Kristin Sparks left a loaded weapon where both the 5-year-old and the 2-year-old could access it.
Should a kid-sized gun have been there in the first place? Would the parents have been as careless with an adult sized firearm?
Do guns marketed to parents and their kids like toys seem less dangerous than their adult counterparts? No doubt, they are a lot more tempting to a child. Obviously, they are just as deadly, the finality something a child may not understand.
All of these questions are topics for further debate and discussion.
Unless, of course, you’re afraid to do so.
Crickett.com may be conveniently “down” at the moment, but people who wish to see how KSA marketed its “Davey Crickett” weapons can still do so, as the site has been archived on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
Crickett relaunched their website this afternoon, having removed all references to the “Kid’s Corner” photos featured earlier on the site’s home page. Here’s the relevant section so you can compare it to the earlier version shown above.
There is also no reference to the Kentucky shooting, nor an explanation why the site has been down for the past week.
- GUNFAQ: 5-Year Old Kills 2-Year Old With ‘My First Rifle’
- GUNFAQ: Kids, Guns, Negligent Homicides… And Double Standards
- Ad for My First Rifle, Used to Kill 2-Year-Old, Is Way Too Much Like Any Other Toy Commercial (adweek.com)
- Company That Sold Rifle That Killed 2-Year-Old Yanks Its Kids Advertising (businessinsider.com)
- Maker of ‘My First Rifle’ for kids disappears after toddler killed (cbc.ca)
- Anyone for Cricketts? The rifles made especially for children (independent.co.uk)