US Election 2016: NRA launches fairy-tale campaign to convey its message that more guns will make the world safer

At a time of repeated mass shootings in the US and terror attacks overseas, the organisation is reaching into the minds of children with re-imagined works like Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns) and Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun)

Once upon a time there was a fairy tale so scary it made little children cry. But then the kindly National Rifle Association got hold of it, introduced some high-powered firearms and trigger-happy grandmas and everyone slept better knowing it was now sure to end happily ever after.

Better known for spending tens of millions on trying to influence the adults of America, especially in an election year, the NRA is now reaching into the minds of its children, posting crudely re-imagined versions of favourite fairy tales on its NRA Family website. First came “Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns)”. And now for our reading pleasure: “Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun)”.

This is not a joke meant to make the NRA look silly, or worse, just like it wasn’t a joke last summer when Senator Ted Cruz, the Republican presidential hopeful, sought votes with a video of him wrapping bacon around the barrel of an assault rifle and firing it so many times the bacon – allegedly – began to sizzle. “Mmm, machine-gun bacon,” a smiling Mr Cruz said to camera.

Surely one of its more unusual departures, the fairy-tale campaign is designed to convey a message central to the NRA’s outreach at a time of repeated mass shootings in the US and terror attacks overseas – that giving guns to as many people as possible will make the world safer. Children may absorb a different lesson – that guns solve all problems.

It certainly works out for white-haired grandma, who, in the NRA version of “Little Red Riding Hood”, written for the site by Amelia Hamilton, is not so helpless in the face of the wolf’s very big teeth. “The wolf leaned in, jaws open wide, then stopped suddenly. Those big ears heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun’s safety being clicked off. Those big eyes looked down and saw that grandma had a scattergun aimed right at him... ‘I don’t think I’ll be eaten today,’ said Grandma, ‘and you won’t be eating anyone again.’ Grandma kept her gun trained on the wolf, who was too scared to move.”

In the view of Ms Hamilton, who promises a new take on “The Three Little Pigs” shortly (presumably with a different wolf looking at being blown away before doing any blowing of its own), children are likely to be far less disturbed by the stories the way she has recast them. Now all our favourite characters, including Hansel and Gretel, are “avoiding all of these horrific situations that happen in fairy tales that are really very violent”, she offered.

Her series has been seized on by gun-control advocates as distortions of literary classics in the service of the NRA’s propaganda machine. “The National Rifle Association is reimagining classic fairy tales as pro-gun parables in their NRA Family magazine,” said the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “Degenerate culture that corrupts children and encourages them to take on significant, and unnecessary, risks.”

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Attendees visit the NRA stand during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) 2016 in Maryland earlier this month (AFP/Getty)

The state legislature in Iowa last month approved a law allowing children of all ages to handle guns, ending a 14-year-old minimum limit. Meanwhile, the CEO of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, underscored his group’s guns-for-all message in a speech on Wednesday at Liberty University, founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell, where students are encouraged to carry concealed weapons on campus.

 “We can’t predict where evil may strike – the next campus, the next church, the next shopping mall or airport,” he said. “And if, God forbid, a monster should walk on to this campus, that evil will be met with the one indisputable fact of liberty: That the surest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

While the NRA is preparing to spend its big campaign chest backing the Republican candidates for Congress and presidency, its focus has switched to blocking consideration by Congress of President Barack Obama’s choice – Merrick Garland – for the empty seat on the US Supreme Court, calling him weak on supporting gun-ownership rights.

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