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Rep. Robin Kelly introduces bill banning marketing firearms to kids; NRA objects

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The National Rifle Association (NRA) is defending its "marketing of firearms to children," and it is doing so by promoting the sale of firearms to children through one of its media mouthpieces, Glenn Beck and his website, TheBlaze.com. The NRA is a lobbying organization that claims to defend the Second Amendment and the rights of gun owners, but in reality is in the business of representing and promoting "gun manufacturers." TheBlaze.com took issue yesterday with Rep. Robin Kelly's (D-IL) introduction of a bill to force companies to stop marketing firearms to children.

Rep. Kelly responded to the years of the NRA sponsoring of the marketing and selling firearms to children. Rep. Kelly introduced H.R. 5093, The Children’s Firearm Marketing Act. The proposed law prohibits the marketing of firearms to children and teens, as is the law as it relates to the marketing and sales of tobacco products. The United States Surgeon General said in the 2014 report, "5.6 million of today’s children will ultimately die early from smoking if we do not do more to reduce current smoking rates."

"As a result of tobacco industry marketing and other influences, more than 3,200 children younger than the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette every day," reported the Surgeon General. Today, about half of all the children between ages 3 and 18 years in this country are exposed to cigarette smoke regularly, either at home or in places such as restaurants that still allow smoking.

Rep. Kelly sees the same damaging influence on children when it comes to firearms. In an exclusive interview with the National White House Examiner, Rep. Kelly said, "Much like manufacturers of tobacco products are prohibited from marketing their products to children, I believe there should be similar protections against the marketing of guns to children." Kelly added, "When you have gun companies making pink and zebra-striped guns or using cartoon characters to sell guns, you run the risk of children mistaking real firearms for toy guns with dangerous consequences."

Rep. Kelly addressed the issue of protecting children from gun violence. Not all gun violence is intentional, but accidental. Not surprisingly, "The 2014 Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America," (also known as the "Kelly Report"), showed that children are at a higher rate of risk when guns are in the home. The "Kelly Report," which is the first-ever Congressional analysis of the nation’s gun violence epidemic that offers a blueprint for ending the violence with guns crisis in America, addressed the issue over and over again.

Results show that our unintentional firearm death rate is more than five times higher than that of the other high-income countries. Our children and young adults are comparatively at highest relative risk — they have over 10 times the risk of dying from an accidental shooting compared with children and young adults in these other countries. There is no reason to expect substitution here — e.g., that if the victims had been not accidentally shot they would instead likely have died from an accidental drowning or an accidental fall.

In an astonishing finding, the "Kelly Report" found, "American children are at significantly greater risk of being killed by a firearm than their counterparts in other nations. They are four times more likely to be killed by a gun than Canadian children, seven times more likely than Israeli children and an astonishing 65 times more likely than British children."

Groups like the NRA like to argue that the solution to the large number of gun deaths is to "educate the gun-owning population and those who live with them (e.g. their children) to act carefully in the presence of guns." The NRA has presented the false narrative that "safety training" reduces accidental gun deaths of children. The Kelly Report disputes this assertion, saying, "Such a reliance on safety training is misplaced. Understandably, children act like children, even after they have been instructed about the dangers of guns. Even those who provide gun safety education are subject to error. Recently, in Maryland a police trainer in firearm safety accidentally shot a police cadet in the head."

Po Murray, Vice Chairman, Newtown Action Alliance & The Newtown Foundation, writes in the "Kelly Report" that state legislators in "Connecticut and Governor Dannel Malloy listened to the reasonable voices of thousands of Connecticut citizens and, in April 2013, passed a sweeping gun violence prevention reform package entitled 'An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.' The reform package includes a ban on sales of assault weapons and high capacity magazines (more than 10 rounds); universal background checks on all firearm sales and transfers; permit requirements for long gun and ammunition purchases; and includes strengthening firearm storage requirements and penalties for fire- arm trafficking offenses. As a result, the Brady Campaign to Pre- vent Gun Violence and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has ranked the state of Connecticut second in the nation for having the strongest gun laws."

Other states have followed suite. New York, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Colorado immediately mobilized to strengthen their state gun laws following the shootings at Sandy Hook.

In May of 2013, in Burkesville, Kentucky, five-year old Kristian Sparks killed his 2-year-old sister with a gun marketed for children as "My First Rifle," reported the New York Times. The firearm, a Davey Crickett single shot .22 caliber youth rifle, was manufactured by Keystone Sporting Arms. The authorities said at the time the shooting was an accident. However, Rep. Kelly argues that a federal law is needed to protect children like Kristian Spark's sister.

H.R. 5093, The Children’s Firearm Marketing Act, would permit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Consumer Product Safety Commission to regulate guns as a consumer product and determine what constitutes marketing firearms to children. The bill would also allow the FTC or CPSC to work with states attorneys general to enforce the ban.

Rep. Kelly's bill would also:

• Prohibit the use of cartoon characters to promote firearms and firearm products.

• Prohibit firearm brand name merchandise for children (e.g., hats, t-shirts, stuffed-animals)

• Prohibit advertisers from conducting marketing campaigns with the intent to appeal to children under the age of 18. Note: federal law prohibits the sale of a gun to anyone under 18, so marketing campaigns targeting age groups beneath this level should be prohibited.

• Prohibit the manufacturing of guns with colors and designs that appeal to children. (See below)

• Prohibits the manufacturing of guns intended for use by children, that do not clearly and conspicuously note the risk posed by the firearm by labeling somewhere on the firearm that it is “a real gun, not a toy” an “actual firearm which may result in death or injury” and/or “a dangerous weapon.”

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