Kids as young as SIX wield guns at bonkers NRA conference with US set for deadliest year


Young children wield deadly handguns and lethal rifles at a bonkers annual convention dubbed “family-friendly” by the organisers.

As the United States of America looks set to see its deadliest year yet, and with a reported more than 500 teenagers and children dead from gun violence already this year, the National Rifle Association (NRA) ploughed ahead with its annual convention regardless.

The event, which is now in its 152nd yearly iteration, saw guns, rifles and shooting equipment displayed across 650,000 square feet.

Meanwhile police still hunt the killer of four people at the Sweet 16 birthday party in Dadeville, Alabama, on Saturday, 600 miles away.

The NRA said before the event: “Make plans now to join fellow Second Amendment patriots for a freedom-filled weekend for the entire family!”

Images emerging from the convention show parents watching on as children – some reported to be as young as six-years-old – play with the deadly weapons, aiming them at imaginary targets and inspecting them intently.

A boy holds a rifle during the event


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A girl looks through the sights of a machine gun


Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock)

Organisers of the Indiana event boasted to “showcase over 14 acres of the latest guns and gear from the most popular companies in the industry”, promising “a freedom-filled weekend for the entire family”.

They billed the convention saying, “It’s all happening in Indy” attracting thousands of defiant firearm advocates and their kids.

And all this is going on against the backdrop of what could be the deadliest year in US history for gun deaths.

The Gun Violence Archive reports there have been 12,358 deaths involving guns so far in 2023 – including homicide and suicide.

Of these, there have been 75 children aged under 11 killed, and 437 teenagers aged 12 to 17 killed.

The non-profit group records there have been 162 mass shootings in the first 15 weeks of 2023 – a daily average of more than 1.5 mass shootings.

A girl dry fires a handgun at the Sig Sauer booth


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The archive defines mass ­shootings as those in which four or more people are shot, excluding the shooter.

Three years ago, firearms became the leading cause of death of children, surpassing car accidents and cancer.

Yet despite the historic bloodshed, the NRA welcomed its members for its three-day gathering along with several top Republican hopefuls for the 2024 presidential race.

Against the backdrop of mass shootings in Tennessee and Kentucky, a stampede of hopefuls and possible candidates rushed to pledge their loyalty to the association before several thousand gun-rights activists and their children.

One of them was Donald Trump, who was in the White House when America’s biggest single-shooter massacre occurred in Las Vegas.

The former President vowed if they helped put him back in office he would defend and EXPAND gun owners’ rights in a speech last Friday – 24 hours before the Sweet 16 killings which left 15 teens injured.

A guest wears a shirt covered with images of Donald Trump while passing a screen with images of guests seen through thermal scope


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“I was proud to be the most pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment president you’ve ever had in the White House,” Trump said to an audience that leapt to its feet, chanting “U-S-A” when he was introduced.

“And with your support in 2024, I will be your loyal friend and fearless champion once again as the 47th president of the United States.”

“This is not a gun problem,” he added.

Trump and others scoffed at the notion that gun and ammunition restrictions would reduce violence.

Their stance illustrated the stark reality that such shootings have become enough of the fabric of US life that the NRA can no longer schedule around them.

CEO Wayne LaPierre suggested his group could play a dominant role in the 2024 election after turmoil in recent years over a failed bankruptcy effort, a class action lawsuit and a fraud probe.

Ten-thousand 9mm shell casings are on display at a booth


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“Gun-hating politicians should never go to bed unafraid of what this association, and all of our millions of members, can do to their political careers,” he said.

Instead of fewer guns, former Vice President Mike Pence called for Government funding for armed school officers and more institutions for the mentally ill, despite mental illness not being the primary driver of mass shootings.

“Stop trampling on the God-given rights of the American people every time tragedy happens,” deluded Pence said in his speech.

The NRA convention’s tone was as defiant as last year when the group held its show in Houston just three days after the massacre of 19 students and two teachers at a Uvalde elementary school.

Indeed, support for gun rights among Republican voters remains higher than for voters overall. Some 56 per cent in last year’s midterm elections said they want stricter national gun laws, compared with just 28 per cent of Republicans.

About half of Republicans said laws should be left as they are angering anti-gun campaigners.

Guests walk past a display for Sako and Tikka rifles


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“Eddie Eagle must be sitting on a nest somewhere because he was nowhere to be found this weekend at the NRA’s annual meeting, where young children were handling weapons,” Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, said about the convention, referring to the NRA’s gun safety mascot.

“Responsible gun owners and parents would not allow a child to put their finger on a firearm’s trigger while pointing it at other people – even if they’re props.”

“It’s more clear than ever that the NRA’s goal was never to teach children about responsible gun handling, but to market guns and gun extremism to a new generation,” Watts said.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy added: “Every significant national Republican, every Republican that’s thrown their hat in the ring to run for president, is showing up this weekend to pledge their undying loyalty to the NRA and the gun lobby.

“Our kids are being hunted, and the NRA’s business model is to give aid to the hunters,” he added.

A man helps a boy look at a handgun


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Gun violence has been – and continues to be – the leading cause of death in children in America, ahead of cancer and car crashes.

Former speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, led the backlash to the annual event.

She tweeted: “As families mourn loved ones killed in mass shootings and gun violence is the #1 cause of death for children in the US, extreme Republicans cowed to the NRA and bragged about giving guns to kids rather than keeping kids safe. We must defeat these extremists — For The Children.”

Protesters demonstrated outside the NRA event, and were reported to include school teachers.

Just three weeks ago, a gunman killed three children and three teachers at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.

Last night, four people including high school seniors were slaughtered at a ‘sweet sixteen’ party in Dadesvill, Alabama.

Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, told Business Insider: “Responsible gun owners and parents would not allow a child to put their finger on a firearm’s trigger while pointing it at other people – even if they’re props

“It’s more clear than ever that the NRA’s goal was never to teach children about responsible gun handling, but to market guns and gun extremism to a new generation.”

A family looks at rifles together


Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock)

After news of the Dadesville horror broke, US President Joe Biden once again hit out at his Republican rivals for failing to engage with the need for gun control regulations.

The President said: “This morning, our nation is once again grieving for at least four Americans tragically killed at a teen’s birthday party in Dadeville, Alabama as well as two others killed last night in a crowded public park in Louisville. Jill and I are praying for their families, and for the many others injured and fighting for their lives in the wake of this weekend’s gun violence.

“What has our nation come to when children cannot attend a birthday party without fear? When parents have to worry every time their kids walk out the door to school, to the movie theatre, or to the park?

“Guns are the leading killer of children in America, and the numbers are rising – not declining.”

The Democrat Commander-in-Chief slammed the situation as “outrageous and unacceptable.”

He added: “Americans agree and want lawmakers to act on common sense gun safety reforms. Instead, this past week Americans saw national Republican elected leaders stand alongside the NRA in a race to the bottom on dangerous laws that further erode gun safety. Our communities need and deserve better.

“I commend Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for signing an Executive Order to expand background checks and calling on the Tennessee statehouse to pass a red flag law. I hope more Republican officials will follow suit and take action.”

“I stand ready, as I always have been, to work across the aisle in good faith on federal legislation that will save lives. It is within Congress’ power to require safe storage of firearms, require background checks for all gun sales, eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability, and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines – and this should happen without delay.”

A boy and his father look at hand gun laser sights


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And just days ago, a bank worker murdered five of his colleagues in Louisville and – like with the Nashville school shooting – he used an assault rifle, which Americans are free to buy from gun stores across the country.

The anguish gripping the small Alamaba city today is now tragically familiar across the country.

Parents in Nashville are still mourning the deaths of three nine-year-olds and three school employees by a lone shooter, Audrey Hale, last month.

It’s a familiar sentiment in Louisville, a city plagued by rising violence, that two weeks ago saw five people shot dead in a city bank.

The fear that now grips their communities is a shared consensus across the States.

People throughout America understand it is impossible to predict where the next mass shooting will happen.

Still, they are united in the belief it will be sooner rather than later. Much sooner, in fact.

There are variations in gun control laws in different US states, with varying age requirements for the different types of firearms

There is no minimum age requirement for owning rifles or shotguns – known as ‘long guns’, but federal law does ban handgun ownership for anyone under the age of 18.

And it is often remarked how the chocolate treat Kinder Eggs were banned in the US over safety fears due to choking hazards – while guns are widely accessible for children, despite being the leading cause of child deaths.

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