This past weekend the NRA held its annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. Trump and Pence both spoke at the event and the convention members were running around the city spreading racism and gun fanaticism in equal parts, but the most disturbing thing to come out of the weekend was a video of a four-year-old named Maverick.
Maverick was attending a gun show, presumably with his parents, when he was filmed playing with a very large gun that was mounted to a wall. The toddler is pumping the gun and pulling the trigger when the video starts, and he is approached by Kendall Jones. However, if you thought Ms. Jones was stopping by to speak to the boy about the dangers of pulling a trigger in a crowded convention hall or to always treat a gun like it is loaded then prepare to be disappointed.
Jones, a teenager from Texas famous for hunting endangered species in Africa, is thrilled to see the little boy deftly handle the weapon that is literally bigger than he is. She encourages him to “do it again” and then high-fives the boy before calling him “adorable.”
It’s not adorable though. In fact, it should be downright disturbing to any rational adult watching the video. Nearly 1,300 children in America die each year from gun-related injuries, and encouraging a small child’s interest in a gun and allowing him to play with it as if it was not a deadly weapon is not only disgusting, it is negligent. For those that want to blow off the whole gun-safety aspect, there is also the fact that the child’s parents allowed him to carelessly play with an expensive piece of merchandise, and he was encouraged by a stranger to continue.
NRA members are always spouting off about “responsible gun ownership” and “good guys with guns.’ So why don’t they have a problem with a child repeatedly pulling that trigger in a public space? I don’t own a gun, but I grew up in a household with several firearms, and for as long as I can remember, I was taught to treat every gun like it was a loaded gun. The video isn’t “adorable,” it is a blatant disregard for gun safety, responsible parenting, and the life of that four-year-old whose next “toy” may not have an empty chamber.