Outrage at NRA tweet just days after instructor shot dead by nine-year-old girl
By RYAN GORMAN
The National Rifle Association remarkably promoted a blog post about how children can have fun at the gun range only two days after a nine-year-old girl shot her shooting instructor dead.
Sent Wednesday from the @NRAWomen Twitter account, the tweet was a link to a piece titled "7 Ways Children Can Have Fun at the Shooting Range." The tweet was first noticed by Huffington Post.
The article was written for Women's Outdoor News before the shooting death, but the NRA promotion came about 48 hours after. It infuriated many.
Even though it was clearly meant to be an instructional article for parents of young competitive shooters, the timing of the NRA's promotion of the article is questionable.
Some of the "fun" suggestions offered up by writer Mia Augustine include animal shaped targets, mutant and zombie targets, clay targets and even exploding targets.
Augustine asserts that exploding targets "are on the top of the 'fun' list [because] the resounding 'BOOM' and puff of smoke is fun to see, hear and... smell."
The author and a group of youth shooters tested out the exploding targets.
"Everyone had a great time, you could tell from the huge smiles on everyone's faces," Augustine recalls before noting that they can be "quite expensive" and that parents need to be "extra careful."
Multi-colored targets allow the young sharpshooters to play C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N, which is basically a game of Horse with guns. One child shoots the target and other competitors have to match it.
Other suggestions include animal-shaped targets because they simulate shooting a real animal. Some of the more popular ones include rabbits, deer and squirrels, according to Augustine.
Mutant and zombie targets are also suggested to help children in "getting rid of the monsters from their nightmares... they do look like lots of fun!"
Active targets, which jump and tumble downrange as they are shot, are also mentioned, but not with the same enthusiasm. The one plus is that they are self-healing, which Augustine says allows them to "take hundreds of shots and still keep their shape."
Clay pigeons and plinker targets, which are made of metal and spin when they are shot, are also seen as ways for children to avoid becoming "tired, exhausted or bored."
The post does go to exhaustive lengths to urge safe shooting, and an editor replying to criticism of the article did not hesitate to point this out.
"Please note the date of publication of this post. We published this several days before this happened and it stresses safety on the range."
Multiple publications still took odds with the timing of the tweet.
"When I was 9-years-old I had a booger wall. A wall for boogers," wrote Salon's Joanna Rothkopf. "I pretended my bed was a horse. I was in no way capable of handling something that could easily kill someone."
Slate's Elliot Hannon argued that "The problem-aside from the obvious potential problem of children playing with guns-is one of timing, and general respect for those affected by a particularly tragic shooting death."
Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini said of the shooting incident and subsequent tweet: "I didn't think anything else about this story could sadden or disgust me... I was wrong."
Investigators are still looking into just how exactly the nine-year-old girl in Arizona shot instructor Charles Vacca, 39, dead with the Uzi. But preliminary reports indicate she could not control the firearm's recoil as it fired bullets at a rate of about 30 per second.
The NRA's tweet has since been deleted, but the Women's Outdoor News article remains online.
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