Little Red Riding Hood, Packing Heat? How NRA Propaganda Is Ruining Children's Fairy Tales

As long as you've got a gun, you're sure to live happily ever after.

Photo Credit: Image by Shutterstock, Copyright (c) Lanych

You know how the old saying goes: “The family that shoots together often ends up in the emergency room together because of the increased risk of death and injury posed by having a gun in the home.”

Oh, wait—that’s actually not how the old saying goes. Though it should be, mostly because it’s true.

Pacific Standard cites Centers for Disease Control estimates that 538 children under 15 were accidentally shot and wounded in the year 2013 alone. Between 2001 and 2013, that number was somewhere in the neighborhood of—hold onto your bullets—9,820. In 2015, according to the group Everytown for Gun Safety, at least 265 children accidentally shot themselves or someone else, and in 83 of those cases, someone died as a result.

That’s roughly five accidental shootings every single week last year. A tally that, as the Washington Post notes, doesn’t even include suicides and homicides.

But why let reality get in the way of a good story? The NRA has been spinning yarns about guns not killing people for a very long time now, without once letting statistics get in the way. Now the gun rights group is offering fans literal fairy tales in which guns ensure a happy ending.

NRA Family (that’s an actual section of the National Rifle Association’s website) features alternate takes on the fairy tales you remember from childhood, only with one crucial change! In these versions, the characters, all children, are packing heat. And because they are essentially fairy tale versions of the NRA’s mythical “good guys with guns,” they’re able to take down bad guys without firing a single shot.

Here is how the site introduces readers to the series:

Most of us probably grew up having fairy tales read to us as we drifted off to sleep. But how many times have you thought back and realized just how, well, grim some of them are? Did any of them ever make your rest a little bit uneasy? Have you ever wondered what those same fairy tales might sound like if the hapless Red Riding Hoods, Hansels and Gretels had been taught about gun safety and how to use firearms? The author of this piece, Amelia Hamilton has—and NRA Family is proud to announce that we’ve partnered with the author to present her twist on those classic tales.

A note identifies author Amelia Hamilton as “a conservative blogger… lifelong writer and patriot.”

The first story in the series, “Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun)” recasts the title character as a fashion-conscious, miniature Annie Oakley. “One birthday not long ago, Red was given her very own rifle and lessons on how to use it—just in case—to be sure that she would always be safe,” Hamilton informs readers, just before the character heads to Grandma’s house. The wolf beats here there, but no biggie. In this NRA fantasyland, everyone has a weapon and is a responsible gun owner:

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. He realized that Grandmother hadn’t been backing away from him; she had been moving towards her shotgun to protect herself and her home. 

“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. Before long, he heard a familiar voice call “Grandmother, I’m here!” Red peeked her head in the door. The wolf couldn’t believe his luck—he had come across two capable ladies in the same day, and they were related! Oh, how he hated when families learned how to protect themselves. 

And there’s more! In “Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns),” Hamilton paints the titular brother and sister duo as adept hunters. Unlike the original, where their parents ditch the kids in the woods because they’re basically too expensive to feed, this version of the fairy tale paints them as proactive young adults. In Hamilton’s telling, Hansel and Gretel take to the forest with their guns in search of food their family can’t afford:

Hansel and Gretel made a plan to help their family. Fortunately, they had been taught how safely to use a gun and had been hunting with their parents most of their lives. They knew that, deep in the forest, there were areas that had never been hunted where they may be able to hunt for food. They knew how to keep themselves safe should they find themselves in trouble. The next morning, before dawn, they left a note for their parents, and gathered their hunting gear. They headed into the forest, grateful that they had the skills to help their family, and were old enough to go out on their own.

In the end, the two help another pair of children escape the witch’s clutches, and bring home venison for dinner. (“[Gretel’s] training had paid off, for she was able to bring the buck down instantly with a single shot. She and Hansel quickly field-dressed the deer and packed up to head back home, hardly believing their luck.”) Once again, a gun saves the day and everyone is happy.

Twitter reacted to these stories the way you might expect—with well-deserved mockery. The #NRAFairyTales hashtag is proof that people in favor of rational gun control have a pretty good sense of humor.

 

In response to critics, Hamilton notes that her stories are less violent and gory than the original versions. “People upset that my version of Little Red Riding Hood has everyone safe,” the author posted to Twitter. “Must prefer the high levels of violence in original.”

That’s true. Hamilton’s stories have much less violence and tragedy than the Brothers Grimm stories. Hamilton’s stories are also considerably less violent and tragic than the true stories of children handling guns and accidentally shooting people. Like the 56 accidental child shootings that have already occurred in 2016. That includes a 2-year-old in Georgia who accidentally shot himself in the stomach after finding his mother’s gun. And an Indiana 6-year-old who accidentally shot and killed his father. As well as a 7-year-old who accidentally, and fatally, shot himself in the head with a gun he found in his mother’s purse. And the 9-year-old Alabama girl who was accidentally shot and killed by her 3-year-old brother.

You can find more fairy tales at the NRA Family site. An interactive map indicating where each child-involved shooting so far this year took place, along with age of the victims and shooters, is located on the Everytown for Gun Safety website.

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

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