US Sen. Chuck Schumer said an Illinois-based gun manufacturer could be breaking the law for peddling a smaller and lighter version of an AR-15 aimed at an audience of children.
The Senate Majority Leader called Sunday for a federal investigation into WEE1 Tactical’s marketing and advertising of a “JR-15″ that includes statements from the company that the weapon is “geared towards smaller enthusiasts.”
The company’s website also shows a small child operating the weapon with an adult, Schumer pointed out.
Schumer’s calls for the Federal Trade Commission to get involved comes after ten people were killed by gunfire in California over the weekend during a mass shooting at a dance club.
“The last thing we need to be doing is shrinking deadly weapons of war and marketing them to young children,” Schumer, a Democrat, said in a statement.
During a press conference, he called the “JR-15” a “disgusting name” and said the FTC has the power to take a “hard look” at the company.
He also questioned why the weapon is being advertised to kids if they can’t legally buy it.
“It is being marketed for children as a junior assault weapon. It’s a spinoff of the AR-15, and the news tonight amid so much pain is that weapons like this need to be reined in, not advertised to children,” Schumer said. “But not only do they need to be reined in. They’ve got to stop being a market to kids and to adults to buy it for kids.”
In a letter to the FTC, Schumer urged the agency to probe WEE1 Tactical’s website over marketing and advertising practices.
He said the “JR-15,” a .22 caliber long rifle, is advertised as “smaller and lighter” and in a November 2021 press release boasted the weapon “operates just like Mom and Dad’s gun.”
Schumer said while press reports indicate the company has toned down some of its marketing methods, it has not totally ceased, noting the small child using the gun.
“It is abundantly clear that the firm is making an explicit effort to appeal to children in order to boost sales of this deadly weapon,” Schumer wrote to the FTC chair Linda Khan. “While WEE1 Tactical’s marketing attempts to make the weapon appear safe for use by children, it is clearly no different than a deadly AR-15, which has already inflicted so much harm and unthinkable trauma on the children of this country.
“I am urging the FTC to examine and investigate WEE1 Tactical to determine whether their marketing and advertising is not merely offensive, but also both deceptive and dangerously misleading to consumers.”
This isn’t the first time WEE1 Tactical has faced scrutiny with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin singling it out in July as lawmakers argued over gun control measures. California Governor Gavin Newsom has also highlighted it, as has gun control groups, Business Insider reported.
Defenders of the firearm insisted on its safety points, including a tamper-resistant trigger lock that can only be handled by adults.
The company, on its website, said safety was at the “forefront” when developing the youth weapon. WEE1 Tactical also stated the weapon is so parents could teach their kids responsible and safe use of firearms.
“Safety was so much at the forefront of our thought process that we developed and patented a tamper resistant safety that puts the adult in control of the firearms safety switch. The switch itself requires strength and dexterity to release,” the company said. “When this is engaged, the standard safety switch on the rifle cannot be released.
“Thus, adding a level of safety found on no other firearm of any size. Always remember that the most important safety feature of any youth firearm is the adult supervising all activity.”
A request for comment on Schumer’s plea to the FTC was not immediately returned by WEE1 Tactical Sunday night.